Running With a Unicorn


by Carole Williams

Let me tell you my running buddy Noemie. She’s the person who inspires me to keep running and who has changed the way I see the sport. She’s a smart, sassy 15-year-old who just completed her first half marathon at the Moncton Hypothermic Half.

I met Noemie through her dad, Denis Robichaud, who enjoys involving his daughter in all kinds of events such as fundraisers and charity races. I immediately noticed there was something special about her. She was witty, funny, intelligent, respectful, and wise beyond her years—all rare qualities in a teenager! I started calling her my “unicorn” (as she is clearly one in a million!) and spending more time with her.

Our first race together was the Electrifying Night Run in Moncton at the end of June, raising funds for the Breast Health clinic at the oncology centre where I work. The 5K run was a breeze for this normally active kid, as she has been involved in ringette for years as a player and official. We had so much fun that the idea of doing a longer race immediately came to mind, so we registered for the 10K distance at the Legs for Literacy event in October. Training in the summer and fall was fun, and the race was also a success. I enjoyed reaching this milestone with her, as it was her longest running distance so far. Then came the crazy idea of doing a half marathon. Would she really have the drive and the discipline to rise to this huge challenge? With her parents’ approval, we decided to go for it.

Running in winter was a much different game. Still, we trained through the cold and the snow as much as possible, resorting to the treadmill only when necessary. She never complained, and most of the time she was the one motivating me. Training focused on increasing our distance and stamina but with injury prevention in mind—slower pace, good form, stretching and yoga in between runs.

Race day was much like our training runs: our goal was for her to finish her first half marathon injury-free and with a smile on her face. Slow and steady we went, following the 10:1 method. We used our walking breaks for stretching—the volunteers seeing us do yoga on the streets must’ve gotten quite a laugh! She never stopped, never complained despite the cold (-17°C at race start) and unsteady footing. I was so very impressed with my little unicorn. As we had hoped, we finished smiling.

I truly enjoyed seeing running through a new runner’s eyes, as well as my role of “coach.” Although I’m sure I’ll go back to racing for myself and pushing my own goals, this is where I am meant to be right now. Inspiring the next generation is beyond gratifying and leaves me, in turn, inspired.


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