Hello! This is Chili. I’m originally from Newfoundland and I currently reside in Eugene, Oregon, otherwise known as “TrackTown USA”. I am a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice with a specialty in eating disorders and body image issues.
As far back as I can remember, I was a runner. In the days when kids played outside late into the evening, I would coax all the neighborhood boys into races through the woods behind my home. And I always won.
I raced track through elementary, middle and high school and I held a position on the provincial track team for Newfoundland. I raced indoor and outdoor track in Canada until I went to college. At that point, I took a 17-year hiatus from running and returned as a “distance” runner in my 40s.
Running, for me, is a metaphor for life. Racing mirrors back who I am as a person and as a runner. Running and racing provide me an arena within which I can push my limits and see what I’m made of, and if I don’t like that person, I change her.
I run because it gives me an opportunity to grow. Running brings me to present moment. It provides a venue to experience my feelings on a visceral level. All of my joy, frustration, exhilaration, anger come out on the road. Running for me is social too. I have a network of incredible people whom I call my running family.
I’m never a lonely runner in this town. Eugene is called “TrackTown USA” for a reason. Running is BIG here. I’ve had the incredible opportunity to run with actual Olympians. I’ve run with the Oregon Track Club Masters and the Team Run Eugene‘s Flyers group led by Ian Dobson. Currently, I am coached by Cathie Twomey-Bellamy, a spectacular runner in her own right, and she leads a mostly masters group of runners, of all levels, who run all distances.
As far as supporters go, my husband is first and foremost my main man. He’s often seen at races with a stopwatch, screaming and yelling splits and words of encouragement. In fact, he’s so involved in my racing that my coach has labeled him her assistant coach, ass coach for short! Ha!
I have no biological children so my dog Eli is my “child” and I have the most regular, joyful and interesting experiences with my Labrador Retriever while on runs. Eli is also my greatest support. He gets dragged into all of my easy runs. He’s probably the fittest Lab in Eugene. Last year, we did an annual check-up at the veterinary office and the vet asked that he gain five pounds. She exclaimed that this is the first time she has ever had to ask a Labrador to gain weight!
I’m a psychotherapist by trade so I will soak up anything related to the psychology of running. Because I specialize in body image and eating disorders, I appreciate what role running can play in treatment, both positively and negatively. I look forward to writing about the psychological components of racing, the joys of running with others, including our four-legged friends, injury prevention, the lessons learned when we are injured, body image, risk-taking in racing and the experience of being a Master’s runner who is relatively new to the sport. All of these relate to some aspect of my own life.
I’m at a point now in my racing life where my days are likely numbered in terms of grand improvements. Having re-started running in my 40s, this has made my focus all the more tangible. I want to find the edges from which I can expand my experiences, be this in more PRs or more personal growth. Ideally, I’ll see growth in both! I’m currently training to continue breaking PRs in 5K and 10K road races and in the 1500m.
I hold a real fondness for the camaraderie that comes with racing and the special bond and “family ties” we create through the sport of running!
Photo of Hayward Classic 1500, by Paul W Harvey IV.