Toronto’s Run for Women (Run Recap)

When I first saw this event and that the series was making a stopover here in Toronto, I decided what better way to have a come-back after surgery run but this; a run to support women’s mental health.  I need to thank Brooks Canada for the promotions on SM as it helped me decide to attend this event.

I kept this run quiet. Which to be honest is unusual for me, as I am a bit of an advocate for all runs I go in. But I needed to prove to myself, that my training had paid off, my legs would work and my heart was still fully in this.

I went on Friday to the Rosedale Running Room on Yonge Street (https://www.runningroom.com/hm/inside.php?id=3366), where I was greeted by an amazing volunteer in which I had a great conversation with regarding volunteers and how runs can’t happen without them.

After this I did some “window shopping” in which in turn lead to another great conversation with a staff member. I’ve been to this running room many times for race packet pickups and the staff never ceases to amaze me with being humble, outgoing and just really down to earth. I like this running room. If anyone needs one that is in the Rosedale area, please stop in, the staff are great.

flat runner

Run day – I quietly got up with my bestie, who I need to add did not run this run, but volunteered at the finish, she was one of the amazing ladies handing out the race bling… the bracelet.

The Brooks staff I met, were just awesome. My bestie spoke to them about her concerns regarding sports bras etc, they offered help, suggestions and did their absolute best to help her. The conversations were awesome and you knew that this group of Brooks staff truly cared. Rare to find, so it made me like Brooks even more. #RunHappyCA

I was nervous, because my training was all done with my bestie in being paced, motivated and driven to keep going farther, faster and better.

I guess I should also back track a couple of days…. I was rushed from work by ambulance on Thursday prior to the run for going into full blown anaphylaxis shock, which lead to a group of major asthma attacks and so on. But the only thing I asked the doctor in the ER was… “Can I run on Saturday”.  I don’t need praise or be told I’m crazy. I just don’t quit. I don’t stay down long when I am knocked down. We always have to keep moving forward.

While waiting for the run to start, the organizers did such an awesome job from the host, to the warm up to just getting people involved, there was so much pre-run sampling that you were kept busy and time just flew by.

The sign in the “washrooms”…

potty love

When we were walked to the start line, for once I decided I’m not standing near the back. I am going to make sure I am in the middle.

The run started and I was off. My goal: Just finish.

 

Event Place Division Place/Gender Place/Division Chip Time
5K 371/577 F3039 276/433 83/126 0:49:39

 

I am proud of myself for this time. I owned this time. I needed my puffer a couple of times on the course, but I didn’t slow. I crossed with my bestie who came out and got me, we ran across together.

When I crossed, I knew I was back in the game, the runners high was back. The joy of experiencing the cross of a finish line was there. My heart was happy.  I’m ready to tackle my next run hurdle, which is the Waterfront 10k at the end of this month. Again, my goal is just to cross. Time is just time.

Anyone interested in what you get in “swag bags”… this run has the best I’ve had yet. The products were amazing and geared towards women. My Shoppers reusable bag was completely full of toiletries, magazines, creams etc. Well worth it.

The only thing I think that can be changed for this run is the support/cheerleaders along the course and at the finish line. With Shoppers being such a big sponsor and with so many stores within the GTA, there could have been so many competitions to best cheer squad, dressed and over crazy cheerleaders. This was one of the first runs I noticed the lack of cheering along the route.

I do need to say, that every Toronto Police Officer I passed, they got a high five. Thank you for being out there, keeping cars and other’s away from us, us safe and making the course flow smoothly.

Thank you again to Nuun for keeping me hydrated along the run.

nuun hate

Dreams

Kelly Clarkson sings:

“If you wanna lead, be a leader. If you wanna dream, be a dreamer…. Remember that the footprints you’re leaving will tell us all who you really are… It’s too bad we can’t see what you’re worth…Character is shown by things we do…”….

So if you want to be a runner… you run.

Recently at a run, I engaged in several conversations with some runners. One was running her 1st ever 5k. She kept telling me she was not a runner because she is not fast. She kept saying she is not like everyone else.  My reply… You want to be a runner and you’re here today running, guess what you are a runner. Welcome to the family.

There is this hidden, quiet unspoken stigma or label that is put on runners, new runners, plus size runners that speed is what you need to be welcomed to the club/family.  You don’t know how hard it is for someone to share this dream, to show up to a registered run, to run.  When we feel we don’t look the part.

Our character and how we choose to show it to others is the foot prints we are leaving behind, even with someone you just meet. The way you present yourself, your views on running, is leaving a foot print, whether it be the stranger, a child (maybe your own), or a co-worker. In our character/make up we should be helping everyone, including that stranger you see waiting for a run to start. When we are supportive this is our character showing.

We as runners within this unique family need to encourage others, listen to their dreams, support the dreams of others. We need to change the label that running truly does not discriminate. Your size does not define your finish. You finish, you finished the same run as the rest of us.  I can’t get passed the label that is associated with running. When someone yesterday casually said it was good for me to make it out to “walk”.  I replied, no I am running. This body, this mind and this heart RUNS.

Foot prints we leave in the pavement for others to see: this is us showing our characters, we did not give up. Yes YOU can do this.  We should never squish, or toss aside someone’s aspirations in becoming a runner. We as runners, fast or slow, need to encourage others to join this family.  Someone has dreamed this, accepted they need to come out of their comfort zone to just try.

Anyone can be a runner, if someone told me I was not a runner because of my time etc, I’d happily point out that we cross the same finish line. My time is my journey, my story and part of my goals. Not yours.

I dreamed over 3 years ago to become a runner, to maybe just try this, give up being a cheerleader for one run, to see if I could do this. I never factored in that I am plus size, people are going to look, gawk and make comments. No I factored in, I have a dream. I want to be able to say I am a runner to people. I want to feel a part of a family, which is unique all on its own.  I made my dream a reality and have not looked back.

One of the women at yesterday’s run. I crossed before her; I waited around the finish line to see her cross and offered congratulations in doing an amazing job. Everyone needs cheerleaders, whether you are cow-belling it for a random stranger or for family. Those cheers, smiles and “almost there” keep us going. (Even though I feel like we never are “almost there”.

I was super proud of this woman, she got off the couch, she put on runners and she crossed the finish. Another dream became a reality. Another goal accomplished.

To some of us it’s a miracle we even started this journey. We faced down fears in ways I can’t even describe. It is a blessing to finish.

My dream…. One day is to bring in the back of the pack. Make the ones who are struggling to make it to the finish, feel supportive, have the encouragement and know that someone does care. Not to let someone face the fear of being last alone.

A year ago this weekend was the Nike Women’s Run here in Toronto. I can tell you my dream was just to finish, not be “swept”, just to finish and be proud I did 15k. When I crossed the finish line, Nike was tearing down parts of the finish line; there wasn’t a soul to be found at the finish, but my best friend, who cheered me on.  Unless you’ve been near the dead last you don’t understand the fear. This fear is mixed in with the dream of running and the what-ifs.

So who ever reads this, ignore the fears, ignore the “I can’t”. If you come in last it doesn’t matter. You accomplished your dream. You became a runner. You made your own dream a reality. Screw the rest of the people who you think are judging you. Who cares if you have a few extra pounds of beautiful. It’s your dream. Make it a reality.  Be proud of your dreams; be proud you become a runner. This is an accomplishment NO ONE can take from you.

To my running family who might read this… I challenge you at your next run once finished to go back to the finish line and cheer in random strangers for an extra 15mins, just see the smiles and tears on people who have accomplished this dream. This goal. Take yourself back to when you first started out running. See the experience through someone else’s eyes, feel that extra vibe that comes with the back of the pack.

The pack of the back is not a bad place to be at all. I’m proud that I made my dream a reality. I am a runner.

run chaese

 

Don’t Fear Daylight

When it comes to running and training, it happens anytime of the day for me. Day or night, it takes place.

So it brings me to this reason for this post, over the years and more recently I’ve heard plus size runners say how they never ran during the day. How they only trained at night away from eyes.

First things first, love your body, mind and heart. You who is reading this is beautiful.

Now what you also need to know about this wonderful running family, we don’t play “sandbox” games. We are genuine, honest, kind, caring folks. We WANT you to succeed.

I’ve never cared about running during the day, if people look, so be it. Are they looking as they drive by? Sitting on their ass from the comforts of their house? I am running. I am making my plus size body healthier. I run for me. Not for what others think. I don’t allow others thoughts enter my mind. I’m stronger than any thoughts they might have.

My experience running during the day:

This past weekend I had a random stranger run past me, turn around and just say “you’re doing great”. I didn’t know this person, yet she provided me with words of encouragement.

During runs: I’ve had people tap me when passing, give me a smile and say “don’t give up”.

These are honest people being humble and kind. I return the same thing during runs. If I’m passing someone who has the look of wanting to give up. I’ll slow to get them back focused. Run with your heart when your mind is done. It’s simple but I’ve returned what I’ve been given to others. Encouragement is free to give.

I don’t feel that people are judging me or looking at me any different when I run. I’m doing something that is making me a better person. I’m not the fastest runner, nor will I ever be an elite. I’d rather be slow and still moving forward.

I want someone to see that they are beautiful and know they are strong enough to toss their fears aside and run in the day light.

If you have a few extra pounds, that doesn’t define you. You are putting yourself under a label. The wrong label. You need to say “yes I’m a runner”. So as a runner you can run anytime of the day. You can run beside anyone at the gym. You’re training. Training for life. Don’t let useless people take up residence in your mind. Let the fear go. No matter of anything we all can run in the day light. Be proud of yourself.

Now to you faster than turtle runners, I challenge you on your next organized run, when you pass someone who appears to be struggling, encourage them. It’s free and harmless a few quick words, thumbs up and a smile. You’re not going to make the Olympic team, you’re not going to win a giant prize. So give back to your running family.

Make me proud to have you a part of my Ohana.