The Bluenose is just 11 days away! Today I asked Erin Poirier (EP) some questions about the Nova Scotia Gambia Association and why she started and continues to run for Love4Gambia. Quite an inspiring person!
JP: How long have you been a runner?
EP: I’ve been a runner since…. always. I started running when I was 15 to stay in shape for high school basketball. I quickly realized that I had more talent (and more love) for running than basketball. I began doing road races when in my early 20s. Over the last 3 years, I’ve run across a country and run and raced though pregnancy and my daughter’s infancy.
JP: How did you become involved with Team Love4Gambia?
EP: I’m the founder of Love4Gambia- it was my brainchild. In 2011, I became the first person to run all the way (424km over 17 days) across the nation of The Gambia. I was running for the Nova Scotia-Gambia Association. I was running to keep kids alive. I was running because NSGA needed help and I thought that I could turn my talent for running into that help.
JP: Why is it important to you to run for The Gambia as part of Team Love4Gambia?
EP: This year, my run for Team Love4Gambia is important to me as a mother. Nine months after my run across The Gambia, my daughter was born.
My beautiful child was born in Canada. Our great country boasts an under-5 mortality rate of just 6 children per 1000. Most of these six deaths are from chronic illnesses such as congenital heart defects and cancer. In The Gambia, 98 of 1000 children like my sweet baby die before their 5th birthday. That’s almost one per ten children.
Most of these deaths are preventable; caused by malaria and diarrhea. This year, my run is for the mothers of children under 5 in The Gambia. The money I raise helps NSGA continue its fight against malaria and helps NSGA educate communities about safe drinking water, fighting against water-bourne illness.
JP: You ran the 5km race as part of Team Love4Gambia last year. Can you share a highlight of your race?
EP: That 5km race was just 31 days after the birth of my daughter- I’m amazed that I survived it! I started running when my baby was 3 weeks old. I had completed exactly 3 runs before race day and only 1 was a full 5km. My sister Kristen ran with me to help get me to the finish and it was pretty special finishing with her. My biggest highlight was running past my newborn and husband on Brunswick Street just before the finish line. I dreamed of my baby while running across The Gambia and now here she was, wearing a tiny team Love4Gambia tshirt.
JP: What’s been the easiest part of your training this cycle?
EP: My year-long maternity leave was very good to me in terms of training. My daughter loves running with me in the baby jogger. She was also a pretty good napper and I was able to do some harder workout runs on the treadmill while she napped.
JP: What’s been the most challenging part of training?
EP: I went back to work when my daughter turned one in April. Time has become my biggest challenge. I miss her at work all day and want to be with her when I pick her up from day care. I’m now doing many of my runs after she goes to bed.
JP: What is your favorite part of running?
EP: Running has become such a big and defining part of who I am that it’s hard to pinpoint one part. I’d say that it’s that running helps me be the best mother, husband and human that I can be.
JP: Where is the most unusual place you’ve run?
EP: Gosh, that would have to be Day 16 of my 17 day run across The Gambia. It was 24km straight through Serrekunda- the throbbing market centre of urban Gambia. Think the equivalent of Midtown in Manhattan. The traffic is insane on a normal day. We had a police escort. When we began running, we learned that the President’s convoy was going to pass and two lanes of the four lane road shut down, placing all the traffica and my run in half the road. It was nuts. You can check it out here (and think about how brave Jennifer is, she’ll be running here in 6 short weeks!):
JP: How do you keep motivated?
EP: When running gets hard, I think about two things. (1) This (being this training run, this race etc) is nowhere near as hard as running across a hot African nation and (2) This is nowhere near as hard as natural childbirth
JP: What are you most looking forward to on race day?
EP: This year, my half marathon run is really special because I’m running with 2 special people as they embark on their first ever half marathon: my youngest sister Kristen and Muhammed Ngallan, NSGA’s Executive Director. I can’t wait to experience the race with them and to see them feel the pure joy of accomplishing their first big half marathon. You never get to relive your own first half marathon finish but pacing a half marathon virgin gets you pretty close. My other sister Laura is also running her first EVER race for Team Love4Gambia. I’m going to thinking about her out there on the 10km course for most of the race.
Running with Muhammed is going to bring me back to my own run across The Gambia. Muhammed is very close with my Gambian team, Pa Modou and Kebba. Pa Modou and Kebba would LOVE to be in Halifax for this race but can’t. Muhammed will pretty much be the best closest thing to running with my Gambian guys.
JP: What advice would you give to other runners to assist them in their training for the Blue Nose Marathon?
EP: During the race, remind yourself to drink in the experience and enjoy it! Remind yourself to look at the spectators who are spending their holiday weekend cheering you, a stranger, on! Look at the volunteers who are there for you, helping you succeed. Look at your fellow racers and feel the camaraderie of running next to them. A race like the Blue Nose brings out the best in our community. Smile. Enjoy.
And of course, donate to Team Love4Gambia!
Click here to support Erin. Just $5 will go a long way for this run in honour of mothers of children under 5 in The Gambia. Just $5.