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Runner leaves medical hindrances in the dust

Monday 7 May 2012


From Canadian publication Cottage Country Now:


Christine Cousins (left) and Kathleen Mason
TORONTO MARATHON. Muskoka runners Christine Cousins
(left) and Kathleen Mason pose outside Exhibition Place in
Toronto after taking on a 10-kilometre marathon together.
The run was particularly arduous for Cousins, who suffers
from fibromyalgia, a condition that causes chronic pain,
fatigue and sleeping problems. Despite her diagnosis,
Cousins already has plans to run in another
10-kilometre race in Muskoka on May 13.

Local runner leaves medical hindrances in the dust

Louis Tam
May 02, 2012 - 1:33 PM

With a 10-kilometre marathon under her belt, a local runner has no plans to let an inhibiting medical condition slow her down.

On April 22, Bracebridge Sportsplex deck supervisor Christine Cousins was one of 5,000 runners who took part in the Toronto Yonge Street 10k marathon. She ran the marathon together with Port Sydney resident Kathleen Mason, and finished with a time of one hour and 26 seconds. The journey was particularly arduous for Cousins, a former photojournalist who has been battling a medical condition called fibromyalgia since 2001.

The condition is known to cause chronic pain, fatigue and sleeping problems in sufferers.

“This has been an amazing journey,” said Cousins. “I gave up many activities and became very inactive for many years as I was afraid of the pain it could cause if I did too much.”

It’s a momentum Cousins has no intention of allowing to slow down. Both Cousins and Mason have already signed up to take part in another Toronto marathon — the Sporting Life 10k — on May 13 to benefit Camp Oochigeas, a Muskoka camp for children with cancer. Cousins and Mason hope to complete the marathon in under one hour.

In an ironic twist, Cousins’ running career began in the water a few years ago, when she was teaching a friend how to swim.

“When she left, I realized that I needed a goal in order to keep myself on track and not give it up. I decided in two years I would do my first triathlon,” said Cousins.

Cousins then began working toward that goal by signing up with Mason for an instructional course on running at the sportsplex. From there, she progressed into taking on a five-kilometre fundraising run organized by Bracebridge and Muskoka Lakes Secondary School students in May 2011.

Cousins took on her first triathlon last July, when she took part in the Gravenhurst Triathlon at Muskoka Wharf. Though she competed in the race alone, Mason surprised her with an unexpected appearance as the end was in sight.

“She ran the last leg of the triathlon by doing the run with me,” said Cousins. “All races we have run, we run together. We always cross the finish line sprinting and together. We like to finish strong.”

Since then, Cousins has also participated in a number of other marathons, including a five-kilometre race in Bradford with her daughter and the Muskoka Fitness Run for a Way marathon last September. Mason joined her again in October for The Haunted Hill, a Halloween-themed marathon in Bolton. She also has plans to head farther north on May 27 to take part in the North Bay MS Walk.

Cousins, who has been off medication for fibromyalgia for an entire year, says her success to date has been the result of a rigorous training regimen.

“Training is usually six days a week, and has been for many months,” she said. “It includes running different distances from three to 10 kilometres, cross-training with static exercises, yoga, hills rep-training, biking and core workouts.”

Together with Mason, Cousins trains all year long outdoors, running through snow and rain in the winter season, and the blazing heat of the sun in the summer months. While Cousins says she’s not sure what the future holds for her running career, she credits the support she and Mason have received from the community with helping to keep their momentum going.

“Family, friends and co-workers have been great to cheer us on as we train and work towards our goals,” she said.


The above originally appeared here.


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