October 20, 2013

Gratitude + Running

Today was a great and significant day for many reasons.

Every October, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon floods our city streets with over 25,000 individuals striving to reach their goals.

After months of training, setbacks from injuries, early mornings, mastering the fine art of balancing schedules and a vast array of sacrifices – it all comes down to a few hours of appreciating the joy that is running.

While Thanksgiving has recently past, I want to pause and take a moment to write about what I am grateful for.

I am grateful to train with a talented group of athletes – the kind that are dedicated and committed to meeting for workouts three times per week, 52 weeks a year, in every element nature can throw at us; the kind who lead inspiring careers as doctors, teachers, physiotherapists, professors, business leaders within their field of pharmaceuticals, finance, marketing and accounting; the kind who support one another through injuries and difficult situations; the kind who tough it out on gruelling intervals…and finally the kind who are always, always, always unselfish and unwavering in their support. If ever there was a force to note of that helps me run – it comes from this incredible group of women.

I am thankful for my coach – someone who pushes me to get faster, who has taught me how to fight for fast times and to appreciate the hard work that goes into becoming a stronger runner.

I am grateful to be a runner. It’s a good day for Canadian women and for running in Canada. I am truly in awe of Lanni Marchant and Krista Duchene for their exceptional performances today breaking the 28-year-old Canadian record in the marathon. What these two women have done for the sport and will continue to do is so important. I hope that anyone who reads this will take some time to truly appreciate what an incredible achievement this is and how crucial it is for this story to gain coverage. We need to see more female athletes profiled by our sports media – and not only to "even the playing field" but because this story is a truly great one that was decades in the making. Sport empowers girls. I hope that more Canadians lace up their runners this week because they have read about Lanni and Krista.

I am grateful to be a part of the fitness movement at Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment. I’ve spent the past 18 months watching, supporting and coaching over 70 individuals to set goals, transform their lives, tackle races and events they thought would never be possible. The movement started as 30 minute circuit sessions at the Air Canada Centre and Ricoh Coliseum and grew to include spin classes, basketball clinics, running groups and skating tutorials led by many of my peers. Former Toronto Marlies Coach, Dallas Eakins, provided support and became the catalyst for what we call #LETSDOTHIS, before moving on to his new coaching role with the Edmonton Oilers. His vision of becoming the fittest company in all of sports is one that continues to drive me every single day. Today over fourteen individuals from the company challenged themselves in the 5K, half marathon and marathon. Each of these people carries with them their own reason for running. This is only the beginning as I am sure there will be many more great success stories to come.

I am a grateful coach. The last week has marked the end of an exciting journey for Laurelly, Lara and Michael. Three dedicated athletes who set out five months ago to qualify for the Boston Marathon (see qualifying standards – these are no walk in the park). While this is not an extraordinary goal in itself for many marathon runners, the feat presented many obstacles – self-doubt, conquering stress from elevated training and making many social sacrifices. I’m very proud to say that as of today, all three of them achieved their goal and they are all headed to the 2015 Boston Marathon. I'm grateful to know these three athletes and I'm better for it – they all faced tough moments over the past six months, but they were resilient and they persevered. I am so proud.

Of course a race wouldn't be a race without the support from my best friend, Maeve...to whom I can never fully thank for all of the incredible support.

And finally, this week marked another very personal moment for my family – as my mom finished her sixth and final chemotherapy treatment. May we all strive to emulate the strength and grace that my mom has shown over the past six months. While her race is not over, yet…you can know that I am grateful to be her biggest fan and that I cheer loudest for her.

I’ve been thinking a great deal about my very wise friend, Coach Stephen and I'll leave you with his words to sign off...

"The decisions you made to run, and the decisions you make at crucial points in our life, are never made in a vacuum; they are part of a decades-long continuum of decision-making that gradually defines you as the person you are. There are those who strive always to finish what they start, and rest only when they’re finished – and there are those who do neither. Understand that and you’ll appreciate why some will be impressed by your race, while others will only be puzzled by it."