March 4, 2013

May we all ask ourselves what we would do if we knew we could not fail.

Over the past nine months, I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about why sports matter and how sport has the power to change kids lives. It’s fair to point out that sport transcends all ages and isn’t limited to a particular time in our lives. I was recently reminded of this when my amazing friend, in a hot pink jacket, crossed the first of many finish lines.

The morning was cold and the wind blew swiftly off Lake Ontario onto the streets of Burlington for the Chilly Half Marathon. The day started out like most races have for the past few years. My training partners, known as the Angels, began their pre-race rituals with the thousands of other runners despite the weather. The Angels consist of twenty-or-so women coached by Nicole Stevenson who never fail to absolutely annihilate their goals whether they be in their professional, academic, athletic and personal lives. It’s truly remarkable.

Other notable runners included my ever-amazing colleague Kayla (who ran the race as a training run leading up to her goal race of Around the Bay 30k) and seventy-eight year old Stephen Bogardo, a man I’ve come to idolize for his dedication to running and appetite for life. He sets the example for living outside of your comfort zone and relishing the chance to prove yourself. The Angels, Kayla and Stephen finished their races strong.

Beyond those incredible finishes is a whole other story in itself. It isn’t one of athletic excellence or record-setting personal bests. This is a story of becoming a coach and points to my friend Eleanor who I first met last June when she set out to reach a number of remarkable goals. She has since achieved each and every one of them.

I keep a drawing at my desk that asks the question “what would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” and I believe that Eleanor has lived this way.

We’re often blind to what we can do. Sometimes we need someone else to show us what we can do, and when I wrote Eleanor’s training plan for the half marathon she completed on Sunday, she never looked back, only forward. With grit and resilience, Eleanor tackled every training run, workout and then the final race with a positive and impressively determined attitude. The road to the finish was a long one with many milestones, obstacles and setbacks but she did it.

I’m so proud to call her my friend, to have been there to witness it all and to have been a part of that journey.
May we all ask ourselves what we would do if we knew we could not fail.