For Emmy Sim, running is freedom. It’s also hard work, but working hard is something the soft-spoken teen enjoys.
“I like that when I am in a race, I am working as hard as I possibly can. I just love how you get to push yourself. It’s never really been about the competition. I just really like to run.”
Sim is currently training for the 2012 Vancouver Marathon on May 6. She’ll be the youngest competitor running the full 42.2 km distance.
Competitors must be 16 years or older. Sim only narrowly made the age classification.
“I turn 16 two days before the race,” laughed the teen, who has run in a half marathon, but has never competed in the full-distance version.
Sim began running at age seven, when she was inspired by watching her older sister, Meryn, also a runner.
“I wanted to do everything she did and be just like her.”
Sim became more serious about running when she took part in the school cross-country running program. Over the years, the three Sim sisters: Meryn, Emmy and Glynis, became well known for their running skills and dedication to the sport.
The family sometimes trains together. Even attending the Vancouver Marathon will be a family event, though Emmy doubts the family will run together.
“We all have different paces,” she explained.
Emmy’s father, Richard, is running the full distance, while Meryn is running in the half-marathon.
“I probably won’t see them until after.”
When asked why she chose the Vancouver Marathon to be her first over-40 km. race, Sim explained that she had wanted it to fit in with her other running-centred sports at school, like track and field and cross-country.
“My dad wanted to run a marathon before he turned 60. We decided to do this together, but it had to be in the spring, before cross-country running at school.”
Sim’s distances have steadily increased and she’s met with many successes, often against older competitors.
Sim ran her first 21-km half-marathon at age 14, at the 2010 Kelowna Marathon. Sim won that event with a 1:27:45 time.
In 2011, at the Kelowna Marathon, Sim placed second in the 10-km event, following that up a few weeks later with a second-place finish in the 5-km high school provincials.
“I thought, ‘Okay, I can run 10 km, so I can do the 21. If I can run that, I can try a whole marathon.’”
Sim, who also enjoys ballet, modern dance and drama, trains a minimum of four times a week, and also runs “one long distance, one short,” on weekends.
Competitive in other sports including cross-country ski racing, she sometimes substitutes another sport-related practice for a running session. However, leading up the Vancouver Marathon, Sim has been focused on regularly running distances ranging anywhere from five to 26 km. Before May 6, she’ll have run the full marathon distance once.
Sim expects the Vancouver run to be “really crowded,” but explained that she enjoys running with people around. She’s heading into her first marathon with an “open mind” and without a concrete goal for finishing by a set time.
“I don’t want to set a goal, I just want to run it.”
While Sim laughingly said she can be competitive “with people my own age or my little sister,” she points out that running, for her, has always been about enjoying running itself.
“It’s sort of like breaking free. I just let whatever comes into my mind come in. I’m not stressed when I’m running.”