Between A Serving Of Bacon And Chocolate Milk. By Petja Taivassalo

TORONTO July 6th 2014. Since lacing up his first pair of “real” running shoes to start running with his wife 4 years ago, it didn’t take long for Digital Champion Petja Taivassalo to become addicted to the enjoyment of getting lost in thought on long runs and giving/receiving the “runner’s nod” of acceptance along the trails in Newmarket, Ontario. Already having completed 2 full marathons and a handful of Around the Bay Road Races, Petja is excited to take part in his first STWM before he is no longer in his 30′s. Connect with Petja on Twitter @MrTDoesPE and on his blog.

Between A Serving Of Bacon And Chocolate Milk. By Petja Taivassalo.

Tribe SelfieSitting in a breakfast diner last Saturday eating brunch, after a great 14k run, I looked around and it hit me, I have truly started my running journey.  Being a “lone wolf” runner, I was seriously out of my element, but that day something just felt so right.  There was so much for me to take in. This is was my first official outing as a member of the the 2014 STWM Digital Champions and I got up ridiculously early on the first day of my summer vacation to meet up with the crew from Tribe Fitness.  I spent the entire run talking with an amazing group of runners about life, music, super heroes, running digestion issues, you know, things all us runners have to deal with, and now I found myself sitting down eating a gigantic plate of “paleo-ness” with a group of people who all shared the same passion, we run, and we love it.

This is it, I have officially taken this thing that we are all supposedly “Born” to do and have committed to taking it to a new level; for me that meant actually training. You see, my wife Andrea and I officially joined the running community only about 4 years ago.  However I really never took to following any kind of plan, or schedule and would go out once, sometimes twice a week to run as far as I could. Then, I would “test” myself entering a 21.1, several 30 and two 42.2 races but I still couldn’t buy into this “organized” running idea.

The funny thing is… the act of putting one foot in front of another in the hopes of getting a medal and a really cool t-shirt (or painters cap as per the 1982 Boston Marathon!) was something that I can remember since I was little.  Growing up on Long Island, New York, I spent many hours watching from the sidelines as my dad Keijo Taivassalo showed me from an early age exactly what “SISU” (a Finnish word roughly translates to determination and perseverance) means as he trained for and competed in marathons all over the world.  I can still remember the smell (grossly enough) of his original “running room” that he had in the basement where he hung his really short shorts and running shirts to dry after every run.  Or even just how salty he was when he would give us all a big hug and kiss after crossing the finish line after a race.

Petja with daughterFast forward 20 some years , and you guessed it,  life has come full circle.  I have my own running shrine, hung with the wretched smelling garb of past battles just waiting to fight again, and I find myself taking such immense pleasures in hearing the “Ewwwws” and wiggling of my own kids as I give them a great big thank you hug for cheering me on. I am so fortunate that my EVERY day (except for the well needed 2 month summer holiday) is spent showing, and sometimes reminding, kids how to play, be active, and promote being healthy and physically literate all in the guise of having FUN.  Being a HPE teacher, I am surrounded by kids on either end of the “activity spectrum”, and I try my hardest to motivate them to get moving and enjoy the spoils of living a healthy, active lifestyle.

But this is my turn.  This is my chance to prove to myself that I can do it.  Now, I look to my students and family for motivation and inspiration to help me along my journey. In fact,  I’m getting pumped up just writing this! (perhaps this DC-ing is as much a motivator for ourselves as well as others!) Entering this new world of running, I realize that being able to run 5, 10, 42.2km is such a gift.  As we post our trials and tribulations with “Runner’s Nipple” or chaffing in places we don’t talk about (Thanks BodyGlide!)  we need to remind ourselves that it is pretty amazing that we can do this.   Even though some people choose not to run and others cannot, we lace up,  go out, and pound the pavement with a smile. We need to cherish each step, each breath and remember that we are lucky to be members of this amazing community.

On my last long slow training run, I found myself lost in thought, asking “is this what it feels like to be a professional runner, like Lanni or Meb?” I mean now I have a coach with a real plan (Thanks to the great group at OnTrack Health and Fitness), I go on group runs (Thank you Heather and Tribe Fitness), I am blogging, Tweeting, and Facebooking my running adventures.  I mean, I am actually trying to be more aware of what I eat and do! Ahhhh! What’s happening to me…..

Pass the bacon please…..

Petja selfie

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