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Wednesday, 23 October 2013 13:33

Brooks marathon runner impressive

Written by  Tim Kalinowski
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There comes a moment on a long run when you hit your stride. Your heart rate is stable, your breathing is steady and your body feels light as air. In that moment your mind is perfectly and totally clear.


Your perception is acute. You can see all the small details in the leaves and landscape around you, and, even at your speed, it all seems to pass by as lazily as a dream. You are running effortlessly. No pain, no discomfort and the miles fall away behind you.
For 37-year-old marathoner Rhonda Loo of Lake Newell, it’s the reason why she runs 20 to 30 kilometres a day. To Loo running isn’t work; it’s pure bliss.
That pursuit of bliss has taken Loo all over the world: The Boston Marathon, The Maui Marathon, The Okanogan Marathon and even locally at The Lethbridge Ultramarathon — and over a dozen more races besides. She has won or placed well in most of these races. It is hard to believe she only began serious, competitive running three years ago at the urging of friends.
“That year I did my first full (42 km) marathon in Whitecourt,” remembers Loo. “And I had to have my arm twisted to run that one. I was a gym rat and would work out two hours a day after work, but I
just did it for my own health and fitness, not competitively. I was surprised I won.”
Although Loo normally runs about 20 to 25 kilometres a day five days a week as a matter of routine, when she is training for a race she ups that total to 30 to 35 a day. In the end, says Loo, it isn’t really about winning races against other runners —  it’s all about pushing herself.
“I’m always competing with myself,” confirms Loo. “Team sports are great, their fun, but when it comes to individual stuff like running that’s where I have always done well.”
Loo says what motivates her to keep running these vast distances everyday is her lifetime commitment to athletic training, her strong, natural will and the thought of her two young children.
“For me, I just go out and run. I think: I started it so I have to finish. And since I sacrifice two to three hours of time a day away from my kids to do this I have to prove myself, and make it worth it.”
According to Loo, one of the highlights of her competitive running career thus far was winning
the 43rd Annual JTB Maui Marathon this past September. The win was nice, she says, but it was
all about the moment.
“I remember running and looking over the ocean and thinking I want to head down to that beach one day soon. I was thinking how beautiful it was, and how lucky I was to be in this place. I can also tell you the hills there don’t look like much, but when you are running them on foot they really are something,” jokes Loo.
At her level of high performance activity Loo says the problem with her body isn’t that she is eating too much, but that she often finds herself starving as her body cries out for more calories to fuel her extraordinary efforts. Jokingly, she compares herself to the Robert Munsch character who has to eat and eat for a pie-eating contest and by the end of the book can’t stop himself. Although she tries to regularly eat healthy foods such as raw vegetables, whole foods, fish and proteins to give her good core energy, Loo admits she does allow herself a few indulgences.
“I do eat a bit of chocolate everyday, or a coffee gelato after a race — that’s my reward.”
Besides being a dedicated marathoner, a registered nurse, a mother of two small children and a self-confessed “gym rat,” Loo also holds occasional running clinics around Lake Newell where she motivates her students to embrace running as a normal part of their daily lives .
“I tell them you just have to make it part of your life and make it something you want to do,” says Loo. “It doesn’t have to be a race. It doesn’t have to be finish first. Anyone who actually goes out to pound the pavement, one foot in front of the other, they’re already winning because they are doing more than the person laying on the sofa.”
Loo says those who make the effort will be surprised by how natural running becomes for them after awhile — just as she herself was surprised after her first marathon win.
“I remember thinking back then 5K was a long ways,” says Loo with a chuckle. “And now 42K is not that big of a deal. Running is something I love.”

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