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Community-Driven • Policy Nerd • Smart

Her Story

Sandra Dueck

Policy Analyst, Communications Specialist Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce

Sandra's Story :

Raising humans is hard.  but my love and dedication to those same humans has pushed me in ways I never imagined.  My husband and I successfully made it through the baby and toddler years with our two daughters and son, but now I feel we’re in the place where the rubber hits the road, those truly formative years.  Our goal is to raise children who are community-minded, self-aware, respectful, positive, and contributing members of society.

That said, in trying to reach that goal it can be easy to lose yourself.  I didn’t realize I’d been losing a little bit of me until my third was almost three years old.  It wasn’t that I was unhappy or feeling unfulfilled.  I was comfortable.  I hadn’t yet realized that something was missing.  In fact, in the year before my trigger moment, several major positive events had occurred.  First, my career had taken an exciting turn and after 15 years in radio news I was now working in Peterborough for the Chamber of Commerce as the organization’s first Policy Analyst/Communications Specialist.  The job was more than a job it was an opportunity to work with and for someone who is not only my boss by my mentor.   Second, we had moved into Peterborough and were starting to put down roots.  Our move into the city was significant as a family because not only were we moving to the house we wanted to raise our children, we were actually accomplishing a personal goal – giving our children what we felt was the epitome of a hometown – a community that was neither too big or too small, teams to cheer on, organizations for which they could volunteer, friendships and connections that would hopefully stand the test of time.  So, in the grand scheme of life goals we were comfortably ticking all of our preconceived boxes.

Then in the fall of 2014, the Chamber held an event called the Corporate Run.  It was a fun race where participants could run 2.5K, 5K, 10K.   I went into that event with the goal of running 2.5K.  I hadn’t really run before, in fact, I had a severe dislike of the activity.  But I’m athletic and competitive, especially when it comes to pushing my own limits, so away I went and ended up running 5K when we realized we didn’t have a fourth relay runner.  That experience left me exhilarated, exhausted, uncomfortable and yet wanting more.  I was hooked.  It was the thing I’d hadn’t known had been missing.

After that race, I started running on my own, slowly, very slowly wearing the baggiest of sweatpants and bulkiest of sweaters, not quite comfortable with my body, but committed to the adrenaline rush that came with completing the challenge.  Head down I’d set out on my mapped 3K route.  It took me about 30 minutes those first few months but the the time winter really set in I was able to run 5K in those 30 minutes.  However, my knees weren’t made for winter running so I turned to the pool.

It was about this time that I decided and actually signed up for the Chemong Lake Try a Tri in August of 2015.  I was 37 and had never, ever even though to try something like this before.  My challenge: 300 meters of open water swimming, a 10K road cycle, capped by a 3K run.  I found a bike and a friend who taught me how to ride it.  I swam and swam and swam – 30 minutes three times a week.  Then I cycled and ran at least twice a week until the moment of reckoning.  The result was beyond. my wildest dreams – I was the first woman to cross the finish line !  funny thing though, while crossing that finish line was the culmination of my training and excitement as I ran down the home stretch, the realization that I had successfully left my comfort zone in the dust and the new level of confidence I had earned.

Looking back, I had accidentally found the perfect way to push my limits to the uncomfortable and teach my children about commitment to self.  I’ve participated in the downtown race every year since that inaugural running and am proud that it has a focus on mental and physical health.  Both are so very important.  I still run at least two or three times a week, my oldest daughter even joins me once in a while, and I always get a bit twitchy if I don’t get out as often as I like.  I don’t know why running was the part of my journey to reconnect me with me.  It wasn’t easy, but I’m ever thankful for steering me onto a positive track.