Giving Back as a Digital Champion

TORONTO. January 6th 2014. The 2014 Toronto Yonge Street 10K (TYS10K) Digital Champions are ready to rock, and we’re excited to have some new and familiar faces on the team. Today, we are featuring the first TYS10K blog by NEW Digital Champion Jodi Lewchuk. Jodi took up running after a long hiatus to exercise her energetic dog, Tilda. She ran her first marathon at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon last year and qualified for Boston! Running makes Jodi happy, keeps her sane, and allows her to believe that anything is possible. Connect with Jodi on Twitter @JodiLewchuk.

Giving Back as a Digital Champion. By Jodi Lewchuk.

Jodi Lewchuk Digital Champ 10K

In case you’re new to my running story, let me catch you up. In spring 2012 I became single after 12 years and was sad. As a newly solo dog mom, I endeavoured to tire out my high-energy Labrador retriever/border collie mix (cute, isn’t she?) by taking up running again after a very long hiatus. It changed my life. I ran my first half-marathon, began training for a full marathon (I did it! And BQ’d!), and realized the joy and confidence I feel on the running trail applies to everyday life. Running makes me happy, keeps me sane, and lets me believe anything is possible.

“There’s one thing I really want,” I said. I was sitting across from a friend, twirling a pint of beer between my thumb and index finger. “I want Future Jodi to appear, give me a hug, and tell me everything’s going to be fine. Because it is. I know it. But it’d be nice to hear it straight from her.”

It was a few months into my time being newly single. I was doing okay — quite well, even — but the edges of my heart were still feeling a bit bruised and tender. Was I absolutely certain that my future was a place where the pieces of my life I had been collecting were put back together into a coherent whole? Of course not. But believing they would was just as easy as believing they wouldn’t, and it was more productive.

The future version of myself I imagined that night had a pretty spectacular life: a challenging, stimulating job; a snug home near water and surrounded by wooded trails to run with my dog, Tilda; an engaged and supportive life partner (can he be really handsome, too?); opportunities to make a difference in the world. Who wouldn’t be reassured by that picture?

My life right now bears little resemblance to that idealized portrait. I’m still working on forging a new career path mid-life, laying down roots in a place that makes my soul happy, and finding someone to share it all with. But none of that matters. The person I am right now, today — she’s more than qualified to travel back in time to reassure the Jodi I used to be that everything is going to work out.

The truth is that those big goals — a dream job, home, and partner — are life-long commitments whose end points are never static: they evolve, shape-shift, and ask that we, over time, attend to their ever-changing needs. Life is a journey that requires endurance, tenacity, and an unwavering belief that we will get to the places we need to be.

Endurance, tenacity, and unwavering belief. Sounds an awful lot like the qualities that make for the best runners.

You’ve heard me muse on this theme before — running’s power to keep the mind positively focused and the spirit resilient. Some days those life goals I’m working towards seem to be receding rather than drawing ever near. Some days I feel discouraged and doubt creeps close. But I’m a runner, so I do the only thing I know how to keep negative thinking at bay: I lace up and hit the trail. I run until fear and uncertainty drop away and those life goals come back into focus.

Running also reminds us every so often that we’re making progress more quickly than we think. While we’re in the day-to-day it can be hard to see the distance between where we are and where we’ve come from, but then it happens: after what seems like a long plateau, we run a personal best — or get offered a dream job or fall in love. Do the work. Results will come.

Running gave me such tangible results recently. Just 13 months after racing my first 10K, I crossed the finish line of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, my first 42.2K event, in Boston-qualifying time. While training over the course of the year, I discovered, and was embraced by, the running community. Through social media and in person on the trails, I met runners who, like me, were racing towards their goals, driven by their unique running stories. This community kept me motivated for tough training runs, positive as I coped with a muscle compartment injury late in the season, and has come to feel like my extended family.

So when the Canada Running Series asked me if I might like to participate in the Digital Champions race ambassador program for the 2014 Toronto Yonge Street 10K, of course I said yes.

In that cluster of life goals I mention above, finding opportunities to give back is on the list. One of those opportunities is now right here before me. Running restored my faith in myself and opened up a whole new world of possibilities to me, and the running community is there to cheer on my every step. And so it is with great pride that I join the 18 other outstanding athletes who make up the #TYS10K Digital Champions team to promote a sport, an organization, and a race that encourage people to set goals, push past their perceived limits, and build community while being the best they can be.

Each day that I train to run a new 10K personal-best time on April 13, 2014, I will look forward to connecting with you — hearing your running stories and learning what motivates you to lace up every day.

I didn’t imagine this day when I wished for Future Jodi to appear and reassure me that everything was going to be just fine. Life is funny that way. Sometimes it surprises us and gives us more than we ever could have hoped for.

I have running to thank for that.

Connect with the Toronto Yonge Street 10K Digital Champions team here!

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