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May 10, 2024
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May 10, 2024

“I run for life”

The Catholic News Steps for Hope Run/Walk will have representation by two members of the Editorial Team, Editor Raymond Syms and Graphic Designer Aadel Chin-Albert. They share their preparation for the race and love of running.

I run for life
By Raymond Syms

I’ve been a distance runner for close to 40 years. I started in Presentation College San Fernando in the late 80s. I played football but found myself being injured often. To strengthen myself and build my stamina, I ran from home to a gym for strength work, did my workout, then ran back home. In between, I’d run to San Fernando Wharf, do a water workout, then run back. Eventually, I stopped gym work and just ran.

‘Pres’ had a ‘marathon’ – it was more a cross country 7-8 k race, for points for sports day. I asked my father for his track shoes: Nike in the national colours. I trained and trained. I didn’t come first but I wasn’t last. I was hooked on distance running. My short bio in the college book was “Raymond has taken up running, even from girls.” Not true.

Running became a passion. If I didn’t put in a run, I felt weak. Sick. I’d watch for any signs of overtraining. I wanted to run every day. I subscribed to Runners World, devouring all the articles on cadence, breathing, warming up, cooling down, stretching, speed work, endurance work, strength work, tempo runs, recovery runs, easy runs. Everything.

When I began working at Royal Bank, my running mentor Nicholas Day brought me into the club he ran for, Athletic Central (AC), based at Gilbert Park, Couva.

We trained on the hills of San Fernando, the ‘100 steps’ in Vistabella, and the former horse racing track of Union Park, Marabella.

I did two marathons: 1993 and 1995 in the green and white of AC. The first time, the famous ‘Granny Luces’ beat me. Second time? I beat her. I hold marathoners in high regard–running 26.2 miles is no easy feat. It’s at least six months of disciplined training, running miles and miles to build endurance.

It was also a deep spiritual experience: training for the marathon, running from Gran Couva where the coach lived, through the cocoa fields, and rural roads of

Central Trinidad, to Chaguanas. I saw the Our Lady of Montserrat RC Church in Tortuga for the first time on the run. In all, 30-plus miles.

The run would start 4 a.m. The elite runners would be in one group, medium level runners in a second and the slower runners in the last group. It was nice at the back of the pack, seeing the sunrise over the Tortuga hills. I prefer morning runs – a great way to start the day. But I make sure to put on reflective wear.

I’ve done countless 5Ks,10Ks and 15Ks. I kept the medals, bibs, and tee shirts as souvenirs, sticking the bibs on the wall above my bed. There was no space. Then life changed. Work. Marriage. Children. Family life. Work. The zeal for racing waned. The last race I ran was 2013 UWI SPEC. But I’m back! Steps for Hope 5K.

I won’t finish in my PB (personal best) of 20 mins, but I will finish. I won’t be first, but I won’t be last. The racing experience is there in my memory. Running has helped me cope with daily living – work, my parents’ deaths, relationship breakups, marital and family issues. I contemplate life on the run. I mentally write articles in my head on the run. Just like this one. I’m a runner. I run for life.


Running is like active meditation
By Aadel Chin Albert

I participated in Scotia Bank’s 5K run Women Against Breast Cancer last year.

My prep [for the CN 5K] has been a mix of weight training, cardio and stretching at least three days a week. Race day mental prep is pretty simple, headphones in, music on, unplug, tune out and run! I would like to make it in under 35 minutes; my current time is between 37 and 38 minutes.

I enjoy running because it allows me to unplug and it’s just me and the road and music in and basically nothing else matters because I have to focus on posture and my stride and my breathing. It’s pretty much a form of active meditation that I really do enjoy.

I actually get a closer connection with myself and that is pretty cool because when I started off running it was very difficult because I had never run before. I have been running for over a year now. My time has improved, my posture better, my stride better, and my focus better.

I feel the benefits of running. I am less tired, less sluggish. When I don’t run, I feel depressed. I just love getting out there. I love the challenge, I love experiencing the pain and recovering, and getting better with every run.