In this week’s NOT SO AMATEUR I am featuring Rae Gibson, who is a mentor of mine. If there is someone who I strive to be like, it isn’t to ‘Be Like Mike’ like those old Gatorade commercials *bah dum dum ching, I’m here all night folks….* it is to be like Rae!
Until 3 years ago Rae didn’t ‘do’ sports. Aside from a yoga class once every couple of weeks, she wasn’t participating in any other fitness related activities. Motivated by a friend to do her first run, which she completed doing 1:1s, (one minute of running, followed by one minute of walking intervals) she realized that running wasn’t actually as bad as she had previously thought, and she was inspired to take her first Running Room clinic last spring. The 5k clinic made her fall in love with running and she continued training on her own after the clinic had come to an end, completing her first half marathon last October.
Rae Gibson is well versed in many different types of fitness. She has run two 5k races, a 10k race, and two half marathons (sub 2:15.) She has competed in the Tour de Terra Cotta Road Cycling Race (26k) and came in 2nd place in her age category!! (This was her first of hopefully many more road cycling races to come!!) She has also participated in the Ride to Conquer Cancer, which is 200kms of cycling over a two-day span, raising $2700. (These funds support the work of The Campbell Family Cancer Research Institute at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, one of the top 5 cancer research centres in the world.) She also took part in the Ride for Karen, riding 160kms.
Why Rae Inspires Me: Rae is my running buddy and she inspires me the most because no matter what’s going on around her she is always smiling. Hard runs, long training runs, she is always that person who sucks it up and leads the motivation train to the nearest trail or path that needs to be run or cycled. It will be pouring rain and she will go for a run (despite the weird looks that she gets from people under their umbrellas.) She encourages and leads by example, and she is one of the most genuine people who I know.
What we can learn from Rae: I think the most important thing (but obviously not limited to just this) that we can learn from Rae Gibson is that you don’t have to be a lifelong athlete to be good at something or try something new. Any time in your life is a good time to start fitness. You can really be surprised at a) how much you enjoy something that you didn’t think was for you and b) how great you may just turn out to be at these fitness related activities. We may not all be the Michael Jordan’s of the world, knowing what our sport oriented goals are at a young age, but if you reach down deep inside, you might be surprised at what you find!
7 Questions with Rae Gibson
Who has inspired you in your life and why?
Rae Gibson: This may sound so corny but my mom. Not that she was ever an athlete by any means, but she’s someone who to me has triumphed in the face of adversity and embodies the spirit and perseverance that every athlete needs to have. 8 years ago she was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer which resulted in her left shoulder-blade being removed, completely and her humerus (upper arm bone) being re-attached to her clavicle with the equivalent of mesh. Initially it meant she lost the use of her left arm and had to go through intense rehabilitation to be able to regain the use of it from the elbow down. One of the proudest, most independent (and stubborn) people I’ve ever known and she suddenly had to re-learn how to do the most basic of things like dressing herself, cutting her food and rely pretty heavily on those around her to help her do it. She was so determined and positive and now you can hardly even tell that she has limited mobility in her arm.
If you could compete in one Olympics sport what would it be and why?
Rae Gibson: Badminton. My finishing poses are a force to be reckoned with! Ok not really, if I somehow found myself without the need to go to work every day and an infinite amount of money so that I had both the time and money to properly train I would love to compete in the Women’s Cycling Road Race. I love to run but being on my bike is just magical. The distance that I can cover and the speed that I can go is simply amazing. And to be able to compete amongst the top women in the world doing something that I love would be a dream come true.
If someone were to tell you that you couldn’t do something and that it was ‘impossible’ what would your response to them be?
Rae Gibson: My first response really isn’t appropriate to publish so I’ll clean it up a bit… “Oh yeah? I’ll show you”. And then use that as my motivation to achieve and excel in whatever it was that they told me I couldn’t do. My mom isn’t the only one who’s stubborn.
What is the craziest thing that has happened to you while cycling?
Rae Gibson: My cycling “career” has been relatively short so far but there is no shortage of mishaps. I truly am a klutz and I firmly believe that if something is going to happen to anyone while cycling it’s me. I attempted a season of mountain biking and the day before my first “learn to ride” technical course decided to put my new clip in pedals on my bike. For anyone thinking about doing this, don’t. It’s a VERY BAD idea. Technical mountain biking is challenging enough without literally attaching yourself to the bike. When going over rock piles, bridges made of planks of wood and through single tracks you really want to be able to put your foot down without having to think about it so that you can stop yourself from falling over. Needless to say, I ate a lot of dirt that day and I managed to put a small but permanent indent in my upper left thigh.
Mountain biking was not my forte and I traded the mountain bike in the next season for a road bike. Although there are considerably fewer obstacles involved it’s still just as dangerous, at least for me. In my first season while on a group ride I managed to get taken out by a runner on the trail (yes, only me) who was still standing after the crash and managed to give me a dirty look before jogging off into the sunset leaving me pretty seriously scraped up, my bike in need of a wheel adjustment and the guys I was riding with screaming for his head. Despite feeling like I might throw up I continued to ride with the group for another 30k just to prove I could ride with the big boys. They were thoroughly impressed but the moment I left them I broke down in tears and rode home to clean up and cover my wounds in Polysporin. And yes I now have another permanent scar from cycling. You’d think I’d give up at this point wouldn’t you?
If you had one piece of advice to give to someone just starting out on their fitness journey what would it be?
Rae Gibson: I really believe that 99% of any sport that we do is mental. Keep a positive attitude and know that there are going to be good days and bad days but a positive attitude and approach will keep you going.
What would you list as your biggest fitness accomplishment?
Rae Gibson: Everything I’ve done! But if I really had to choose one it would be placing 2nd in my age category in the Tour de Terra Cotta beginners race this summer. I got on a road bike for the very first time this past March and the only reason I did it was because I’d signed up to do the Ride to Conquer Cancer with my mom again being the motivation behind it. But when I got on the bike I found that I really loved cycling and had a fairly natural ability for it. So I rode like crazy all summer, going longer and longer distances. Mid-summer my road bike was stolen and I was devastated. I obviously had to replace it and decided to upgrade but made a deal that if I did I would work towards entering a race. For some unknown reason I decided to do it this summer. So yes, 4 months into my first season on a road bike I entered a race. Insane. Especially given the fact that I hadn’t been training to race. I’d just been riding. So race day came, I was soooooo nervous but I rode as fast as my little legs would carry me. I finished and felt great about how I’d done. I’d achieved a time that I was happy with and completed my first race. Then with chocolate milk in hand I wandered over to read the results and nearly had a heart attack when I realized that I’d placed and would actually be getting a medal!
Favourite Fitness Quote:
Rae Gibson: “Believe in yourself and al that you are. Know that there is something inside that is greater than any obstacle”. Christian D. Larson
I hope you all enjoyed this week’s post! Thank you to Rae for answering all of my questions and sharing her stories with me!
Next week you can look forward to another NOT SO AMATEUR post on one of my hometown fellow fitness pals!
Until then, happy training!