Team Love4Gambia is pleased to continue to help you get to know some of the road warriors who are lacing up their sneakers to help kids and communities in The Gambia.
EP: How did you become affiliated with the NSGA?
HF: When I retired in July 2008, I wanted to volunteer in a sector very different from my university career in early childhood education. I was most impressed with the various health education and leadership projects provided through NSGA, and was in agreement with their innovative peer education model. I decided to volunteer as a Board member and was thrilled that they wanted me. I finished my term on the Board last year, but remain very committed to NSGA.
EP: What motivated you to join Team Love4Gambia?
HF: I was a member of Team Love4Gambia last year and it was a very positive experience, so I wanted to join again this year. There are two types of motivation for me; organizational /financial motivation and personal /physical motivation. First of all, I am very motivated to raise money for an organization that I hold dear to my heart. As a past Board member, I know first-hand how badly the funds are needed to carry out NSGA’s important work, and I want to do everything I can to help.
Secondly, I really want to set a personal physical goal again this year. I was 68 years old at the time of the marathon last year and I’ve always kept pretty fit, going to classes at the Tower and walking quite a lot. However, in my 68 years, I had never entered a formal competition where I had to walk or run. I asked myself, “Can I do this? Can I complete the 21.5 k walk without totally embarrassing myself?” Since I was asking people to sponsor me, I felt a responsibility to complete the walk in a reasonable length of time. Well I did complete the walk in a reasonable length of time, so I know that I can do it. It was so rewarding that I want to do it again.
EP: You walked the half-marathon for Team Love4Gambia last year, can you share a highlight of your race?
HF: Well, there were many highlights since this was my first race, but I’ll choose two of particular interest. The first highlight which took place at the beginning of the race was really quite stressful. Three of us had planned to walk together and we met at 7 am at the Citadel. Unfortunately, one of our threesome caught her finger in the port-a-potty door and had to drop out of the race. My sister-in-law, Cheryl Osmond, and I waited until our injured friend was picked up and taken to emergency, so we started the race about 15 minutes late. Everything turned out fine. The wounded finger healed nicely and Cheryl and I caught up with some of the other walkers. Our late starting time was taken into consideration. It was very odd to start the race all by ourselves, though!
The second highlight was at the end of the race. It was amazing how quickly we walked the last 10 minutes. It was so motivating to be near the finish line. We thought that we might average about 5 k per hour. When they announced our names and our times at the finish line, we were amazed that we made it in 3 hours and 12 minutes. We averaged nearly 6 K per hour.
EP: What’s been the easiest part of your training?
HF: I live very near Point Pleasant Park and I love walking around the park. I start training in the spring and it’s really feels good, both physically and emotionally, to take a brisk walk most days in such beautiful surroundings. It feels more like pleasure than work.
EP: What’s been the most challenging part of training?
HF: The biggest challenge is increasing the length of my walks. I just turned 69 and I don’t want to damage myself physically because walking and exercising are and will continue to be an important part of my life! How far should I walk? How often should I do long walks? There are all sorts of guides you can find on the internet, but they really aren’t geared for someone my age. I just have to really listen to my body and to let it tell me what’s right for me. This is a challenge.
EP: How do you keep motivated?
HF: Cheryl is walking with me again and it’s very motivating to have someone to partner with you. This is sort of social motivation. I’m also physically motivated because most people, including me, like to get physically fit in the spring. Most of all, I’m motivated to raise money for NSGA. Last year I was the top fundraiser for the team and I was really proud of that achievement!
EP: What is your favourite race-day breakfast?
HF: I’m no expert here because I only have been in one race! I had a big bowl of wholegrain cereal with a banana and some toast with peanut butter. It seemed to do the trick. My energy stayed up and I didn’t get hungry.
EP: What are you most looking forward to on race day?
HF: I’m looking forward to seeing all the people involved in the race; runners, walkers and volunteers. There’s such a sense of purpose and hope for all of us. It’s especially wonderful to pass other Team Love4Gambia members in their team shirts. We greet one another en route and know that we are all walking or running for a great organization.
EP: What advice would you give other new walkers to assist them in their training for the Blue Nose Marathon?
Start training early, begin with short walks and gradually work up to longer ones, eat a healthy diet, find a walking partner, get plenty of sleep, and be sure to enjoy the spring weather and the scenery .
EP: Thanks, Hiya! Many athletes dream about being as fit as you are entering their 7th decade of life and here you are, making it happen. And making it happen for kids and communities in The Gambia. You are a fitness hero. We wish you an awesome race day. Caution with those porta-potties! And good luck fundraising!
To wish Hiya luck and support, you can donate to this run by clicking here.
To join Hiya and the rest of Team Love4Gambia on race day, click here.
Up next, Blue Nose Team Love4Gambia’s Colette Strome. Stay tuned!
Are you a Team Love4Gambia runner/walker who wants to be profiled? Please get in touch with me!