Joanne, Team Love4Gambia Runner: “Yes You CAN!”

The days until “I Run This Town,” (the Blue Nose Marathon’s 2012 motto) are dwindling!   With 36 days to go, Team Love4Gambia is psyched to continue to help yoRunners and walkers on Team Love4Gambiau get to know some of the road warriors who are lacing up their sneakers to help kids and communities in The Gambia.

In July 2011, our Team Love4Gambia motto was “YES WE CAN!” It was an important motto, especially for me as the runner on the line to run all the way across the country because I knew that many in both The Gambia and Canada doubted that I could do it.  YES WE CAN! turned into YES, WE DID! on a beautiful Monday morning when I jumped into the Atlantic Ocean after running towards it for 424km.

Today, I am thrilled to bring you the story of a brand new runner, Joanne Lamb, who embodies “YES I CAN!”  Please read on!

EP: What motivated you to start running?

Team Love4Gambia Blue Nose Marathon Runner Joanne LambJL: The decision to undertake this (monumental) challenge was a difficult one.  Although I love the gym and exercising, I have NEVER been a runner. EVER.  Running, in my head, has always been an unattainable goal.  Something that others did – younger people, those with more physical & mental strength than I have.  In retrospect, underneath it all, I was envious.  To be able to pull on your running shoes, load up your favorite music and take off.  No gym required – only the open road.

The most tangible thing that held me back was my feet.  I have extremely flat feet that pronate, plantar fasciitis, calcaneal spurs and joints that are way too flexible (who knew that was a bad thing!).  In 2005, I had a fasciotomy and a large calcaneal spur removed following a brief, but memorable adventure at Basic Training for the Canadian Forces (long story).  The remaining spur is quite small and was successfully treated last fall by physiotherapy.

So, I decided that I had made excuses long enough and that a new challenge was in order.  It was either running or hot yoga and I don’t enjoy exercising in the heat so here I am! I knew that the Running Room Learn to Run clinic would give me the best chance at success with its educational and support component and the way they gradually build you up.  The clinic started on March 12 and is scheduled to have us ready for the Bluenose 5 km – which is getting closer and closer!

EP: Why did you choose to join Team Love4Gambia?

JL: This one is easy – Erin Poirier.  I first met Erin during the Master of Nursing program at Dalhousie (along with Gina O’Leary & Shauna Wilcox – also awesome runners).  I have followed Erin’s running since then (Boston Marathon, etc.) but was completely inspired by her run across the Gambia last summer.  I read every blog posting she made and was so impressed with the mental and physical fortitude it took to complete that journey, and all for such a wonderful cause.  As a nurse I know the value of health education and prevention especially in places that have zero resources. Once I registered for the Bluenose I knew that I wanted to be a part of Team Love4Gambia and in some small way to also make a difference.

EP: How has your training been so far?

JL: The training has been the toughest thing I’ve ever done – 3 runs per week for 10 weeks, gradually increasing the running time and decreasing the walking time.  Never, ever did I think 1 minute of running could seem like an eternity, but it certainly did that very first night.  Now into week 4 and I’m running for 3 minutes/walking for 1 x 6 cycles! This is huge for me!

EP: What is your favorite part about running?

JL: Without a doubt the emotional and physical feeling I get when I complete the run – pure exhilaration and renewed confidence in myself that I can actually do this.  I also love the camaraderie that exists among the running community – very supportive.  Because the whole running world is completely foreign to me I decided to blog about my adventures as I learn to run.  This has been a great outlet for my thoughts – the ups and downs and of course the funny moments.  (

EP: What is your least favorite part about running?

JL: Without a doubt my body protesting with aches and pains and the “jiggle factor”! At 45 things are a little creaky J The shins are still giving me some trouble but I understand that it is a common problem in new runners. Because of my feet issues my calves tighten up pretty quickly and then the shin discomfort starts.  I usually have to stretch during the walk portion of our runs, happily I’ve needed to do this less and less as the weeks go by.  I have this strange post run regimen of stretching, hot Epsom salt baths, and icing my aching legs that seems to work for me.  And like every good nurse I self-medicate with Advil and the occasional glass of wine when the pain gets really bad J My legs just recover in time for our next run.

EP: How do you keep motivated?

JL:  Surprisingly motivation hasn’t been that difficult, especially when I’ll be running for such a wonderful charity.   Each week in training I’m amazed what my body can accomplish – both mentally and physically.  I have learned to shut off my mind from negative thoughts – like worrying as each week starts about how I’m going to be able run longer.  I just go there and somehow manage to it and am (literally) jumping for joy afterwards! Each successful run keeps me going back for more.

EP: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received so far?

JL: Erin gave me some great advice for shin pain – soaping up my legs & rolling a shampoo bottle along my shins – painful but very effective – thanks Erin!

EP: What are you most looking forward to on race day?

JL:  Not only have I never competed in any running event – I have never even been a spectator!  I can’t wait to experience it all – the crowds, the other runners, and the overall feeling.  I have NO idea what to expect, other than to thoroughly enjoy myself.  For me it’s not a race because the only person I’m competing against is myself.  By race day I will have already won because I have done what I never dreamed I could do – run.  All that will be left is to enjoy the experience and relish the feeling of crossing that finish line!

EP: What advice would you give to other new runners to assist them in their training for the Blue Nose Marathon?

JL:  I can only speak to other brand new runners such as myself: put yourself out there and get encouragement and advice whenever possible; never underestimate the value of great running shoes; and finally, shut out the negative thoughts, be brave and believe that you can do it…and you will.  If I can run, anyone can.

EP: It pretty much took me more a decade of running and an entire African country stretched out before me to learn that the only person who’s belief in you matters is your own belief in yourself.  Joanne has learned this already.  Joanne, on race day, you are going to fly!  Important or not, all of Team Love4Gambia is behind you!  Go Joanne GO!

To wish Joanne luck and support, you can donate to her run by clicking here.  You can also follow Joanne’s progress on her running blog here

Check out the rest of Team Love4Gambia roster by clicking here.

Up next, Blue Nose Team Love4Gambia’s Phil Roson. Stay tuned!

Are you a Team Love4Gambia runner/walker who wants to be profiled?  Please get in touch with me!

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