Remember To Run. By Bridget Roussy

TORONTO July 24th 2014. Almost 2 years ago, a friend of Bridget’s talked her into signing up for the Canada Army Run half-marathon. ‘Ah yes, that running thing. I’ve seen people do that…’ There was just one catch: she had never run before. Now: four half-marathons & an Around The Bay 30K later, she decided the next logical step with this new-found obsession would be to run a full marathon. Though she currently lives in Ottawa, she chose the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon as her first marathon because Toronto was the first place she moved out on her own, away from her hometown of Cornwall, Ontario. STWM seemed like a fitting idea to attempt another big first! Connect with Bridget on Twitter @bridgetwaits on on her blog.

Remember to Run. By Bridget Roussy.

Bridget STWM Blog“The STWM Digital Champions are a group of diverse, dedicated and enthusiastic athletes; each with a unique story and running history…”


I still have a difficult time thinking of myself as an athlete. I grew up playing outside just like every other kid in my neighbourhood. We invented games, we came home only to eat and go out again in the evening. We swam at the outdoor pools, played hide-and-seek, built forest forts. Sisters, brothers, neighbours, cousins. We worked it out together.

In elementary school, I joined every sport team: why not? It allowed me to leave class for a day, go to schools around the city and play baseball, soccer, indoor hockey. The city I grew up in is fairly small and extracurricular activities were no doubt high in demand (as well as price) at that time, but my mom always ensured we had an outlet for our energy. I played soccer for 5 years before joining Sea Cadets, where I swam competitively and won provincial medals. Sport wasn’t something I thought much about, it was just something I did.

Despite growing up with a life of active and encouraged play, I can pinpoint the exact moment I started to hate it: in high school, in an all-girl gym class.

In high school it was clear that you didn’t just join a sports team. You didn’t just show up to class and play. You needed to dress a certain way, you needed to hang around the right crowd. You’d be judged by your family income and you’d be judged by your hair. After all, judging is what teenage girls do best. All of a sudden, the fun was taken away from the game and I was left with my ratty sneakers, resentment, and the entire semester that remained of this dreaded class. For years after, I did what I thought was everything opposite of the jock crowd: I dyed my hair every colour, I wore thrift store clothing, and I went to all-ages shows with my friends. I skipped out on mandatory ‘school spirit’ basketball team home games and spent time in the darkroom developing photos. I despised anything that took place in a gym.

It never occurred to me that I could have it both ways. That I could keep doing what came natural & explore new hobbies as well.

Fast-forward so many years later: I don’t hold any hard feelings toward my classmates. In high school and adult life, there will always be someone there to try to discourage you. It has taken me this long to realize and acknowledge. Sometimes that person will be a colleague, a family member, a neighbour. But for many of us: it’s ourselves. It upsets me to think I lost so many good years due to teenage and, eventually, adult insecurities. Because almost 20 years after gym class, it’s only now that I’m learning to play all over again.

I started running two years ago after I signed up to Bridget STWM Blog 3walk a half-marathon. It was difficult, it was exhausting, and it burned. I wasn’t sure why I was even trying it out in the first place. I had only made a commitment to walk the distance. But at that moment, the childhood exhilaration came back: running to the park, to the pool, from my brother, to the store for popsicles. When claims were made by whoever could make it there fastest.

I don’t have the same friends to run around with now but I have many other reasons to keep it up: to meet new friends in the rabbit-hole of an online community or out on the trails, to raise money for charities I believe in, to encourage anyone who may be hesitant, to keep striving for new goals and to gain overall confidence, and yes… for popsicles. Our ability to run is the ultimate equalizer. It can be a common bond with someone you’ve just met. It’s exploring new places and seeing old ones differently. Many of us grew up doing it, regardless of income, of what we could afford to wear. It’s just that most of us have forgotten *how* to do it over time.

After a few years of re-discovering, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon will be my ultimate gift to myself: my first marathon, to take back all of that lost time. To prove that we don’t ever have to stop playing.

And if you’ve never started? Just try for yourself and see what happens. I promise not to judge you.

Posted in Digital Champions, Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon | 4 Comments

“Social Hub” launched for 2014 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon — you’re invited!

TORONTO. July 22nd. Canada Running Series is pleased to announce the launch of its “Social Hub” for the 25th Anniversary running of Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, slated for Sunday, October 19th. It was created by Zoomph, who also provide innovative hubs for the New York Road Runners and New York City Marathon, the Washington Capitals, Washington Wizards and Baltimore Orioles.

Part of the Series’ commitment to innovation as well as international-class organization, the #STWM Social Hub collects all social media content that contains the hashtag #STWM from Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and brings it together on the one page. The process is “live”, ongoing, in “real time” and automatically refreshes as new posts are created. Runners, spectators, charities, neighbourhood groups, family and friends can then retweet, reply and “favourite” content directly from the hub. Even runners who aren’t active on social media can benefit from the inspiration and motivation that the hub displays, and it is one easy click-through from the “Social Hub” button on the website homepage [top right].

STWM14 SocialHub_Screenshot
“We’re really #stoked, #pumped and #excited about the new #STWM Social Hub,” said Race Director Alan Brookes. “Whether it’s a training run update, a motivational message, a picture from the start line, or an exciting status from along the course, everything you share becomes part of our #STWM online community. Most importantly, YOU become part of our Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon community.”

Every time individuals post a message to twitter or upload a picture to Instagram with the #STWM tag, the content will appear amongst hundreds of other posts which will all come together to tell the story of YOUR journey to the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. Share your pictures and messages using the #STWM hashtag! The content you create will become an online memory that we all can share; thousands of runners, spectators, family, and friends.

Let’s build a buzz, make some noise and show the world what a special experience the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is!

“Join the conversation”, says Brookes. “Let’s start today!”
STWM14 Social Hub buttonSocialHub_Button

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Lessons Learned On The Road. By Jean-Paul Bedard

TORONTO July 20 2014. Digital Champion Jean-Paul Bedard started running over 16 years ago when he entered a treatment program for an addiction to drugs and alcohol. He trained for his first marathon, The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, with two other men from his treatment program. All three men qualified for Boston. Since then, Jean-Paul has gone on to complete over 80 marathons and quite a few ultra-marathons. In 2012, he represented Canada in the prestigious Comrades Marathon in South Africa. Most recently, Jean-Paul completed a “double-Boston Marathon” in April 2014 which saw him run from the finish line to the start, and then join the rest of the runners to complete the marathon. Jean-Paul is dedicating his 2014 race schedule to raising funds and awareness for other survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Connect with Jean-Paul on Twitter @RunjpRun and on his blog.

Lessons Learned On The Road. By Jean-Paul Bedard.

JP RunSome of us run to push our limits, to see what we are really capable of. Others run for the camaraderie—the feeling of belonging to a tribe.  And others, run to vanquish demons and soar to new heights. Whatever your reasons are for lacing up and setting out on a 42.2 km journey, you are bound to stumble on some bumps along the way. As a veteran of over 80 marathons and many ultra marathons, I thought I would share some of the lessons I’ve learned on the road.

1.  The enemy lies between your ears. To the normal people out there, it just doesn’t seem sane to push your body through the hell of training for, and competing in, a marathon. If we listen to those naysayers, we set ourselves up for failure.  I’ve learned that pain is often caused not by the current unease or discomfort, but by your perception of it. Learning to quiet those voices in our head telling us “It’s too difficult. You can’t do this” is what separates us mere mortals from the elite athletes.  As Dr. Seuss said:  “You have brains in your head.  You have feet in your shoes.  You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.  You’re on your own.  And you know what you know.  You are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

2. You are not going to like this, but…If long-distance running has taught me anything, it is that what I think I need, may not in fact be what I really need.  Coming in from a 35 km training run, all I want to do is hop in a warm shower—the problem is, that’s the worst thing for my recovery.  What I have forced myself to do is to jump into a freezing cold ice bath to flush the swelling from my muscles.  Other tricks I’ve learned that seem counter intuitive is to go for a little run the morning after a marathon or long hard training run. Trust me, your brain will be screaming No!, but your legs will thank you later that day.

3.  Getting your medal is all about JP Bostontesting your metal. There will be points during your training, and throughout the marathon itself, when you’ll want to give up. Success in endurance sports requires walking the tight rope between overtraining and under training.  Whenever I encounter a rough patch, I look at all the adversity I’ve come through in my life.  I’ve managed to battle a drug and alcohol addiction, and I am now 17 years clean and sober, one day at a time.  I’m also a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, so I draw on my resiliency to get through any adversity. I invite you to consider all you have come through in your own life, and use it as a wellspring to power you through adversity.

4.  Instead of listening to Justin Bieber, why not just be there? I head out the door most mornings at 4:30 to run through the streets of Toronto.  I don’t run with an iPod or any other type of headset because I want to be totally aware of the traffic noises around me especially considering I usually run in the street rather than on the sidewalk or trails.  I’m a little militant when it comes to runners zoning out to their iPods, and I would be ecstatic if they were banned from races.  I really believe that you put yourself, and those around you, in danger when you run in a “music bubble”.  Running on a treadmill with an iPod is another story entirely—You might lose your mind if you don’t have something to distract you.

If I listen carefully, the streets of Toronto have their own rhythm—their own chorus.  On my morning runs, I’m serenaded by the grinding of the streetcars along King and Queen; downtown I hear the echoes of the early morning delivery trucks; when I arrive back to the Beaches, I’m greeted by the waves lapping up on the shore.  I’m also intimately attuned to the sounds of the changing seasons—The screeches of the raccoons in spring, the humidity-induced rumbling of the thunder in the summer, the shuffle of the blowing leaves in the autumn, and the crunch of the ice and snow under my feet in the winter.

5.  Don’t lose focus now that race day has arrived. So you put in the long hard miles of training—now is not the time to lose your focus. Learn how to manage your race to get the most out of it.   42.2 km is daunting, so break up the distance into manageable 5 km chunks. All you need to do is make it to your next mental milestone.  One of my biggest race pet peeves is erratic behavior at the water/aid stations. Practice proper running etiquette—Don’t dart out in front of other runners to grab your drink, and don’t stop suddenly in your tracks.  When you see the aid station coming up in the distance, make your way over to that side of the road well in advance.  Another strategy I rely on is if I know there is a part of the course I am dreading, maybe it’s a hilly section, I try to do a lot of my training runs going over that section.  That way, when race day finally arrives, I’ll attack this section with confidence.  Finally, even the best plans go awry, so make sure you have an “A”, “B”, and “C” goal. Weather, stomach issues, and even a last-minute injury may cause you to reevaluate your goal.

JP Sherpa6.  It’s a lot easier to summit Everest with a Sherpa. In the midst of an endless sea of running advice, a critical consideration is often neglected—Have you lined up a faithful running Sherpa?  If you don’t have your running Sherpa already lined up, my wife has provided some sage advice on how to cultivate or acquire your very own.  Pick destination races that offer a great time to check out a new city or country—preferably ones with excellent shopping and fantastic restaurants.  Also, don’t hold up in your hotel room the day before the race saying: “I want to rest my legs before the race.”  Remember that running is a family affair and it can be an awesome time to break you out of your comfort zone and explore a new place with your loyal Sherpa.  Most importantly, remember why you started running in the first place, and be thankful of all of the incredible things you will discover about yourself along the way.

Posted in Digital Champions, Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon | Leave a comment

Honey, We Forgot My Race Gear! By Leanne Richardson

TORONTO July 17th 2014. Leanne Richardson officially started running after participating in Ottawa’s Weekend To End Breast Cancer 60K Walk. Since then she has completed several 5K’s, 10K’s, half marathons and her first marathon at last year’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. She recognizes that setting goals, signing up for races and sharing her journey with others is the best way for her to stay focussed and be accountable to achieve her goals. Leanne experienced every runner’s worst nightmare when she realized after travelling to Toronto on the eve of her first marathon, that she had forgotten all of her running gear back in Ottawa. That didn’t stop her—she pushed through and completed the marathon in all new gear!  Leanne hopes to inspire and encourage other runners to train hard, trust their training and enjoy the journey along the way! Connect with Leanne on Twitter @RLeanne and on her blog. 

Honey, We Forgot My Race Gear! By Leanne Richardson. 

Leanne 1My first marathon was last October at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon 2013. I was traveling from Ottawa, the race was in October and it was hard to know what the weather would be for race day, so I over-packed just in case.

I packed: 2 sports bras, race approved undies, 2 capris, 2 t-shirts, tank, shorts, long sleeve shirts, 2 socks, vest, light jacket, arm sleeves, calf sleeves, shoes/orthotics, hydration pack filled with all my nutrition, waist pack (in case we couldn’t have hydration packs), body glide, hat/sunglasses, Garmin watch, and stapler to attach my pace wristband so I wouldn’t have to ask the hotel front desk. 

I also packed a “shower bag” for after the race for convenience, as I didn’t know where I’d be freshening up. It included: baby wipes, deodorant, pants, socks, long shirts, and extra shoes in case mine were wet (I had just started to break them in).

My husband and I have a packing system (we’ve been married 24 years) so we’ve been doing this for a while.  I bring all the stuff to the front door and he loads the van. As this was a family trip I was also packing the cooler for the four of us.

We hit the road a little later than we intended and it rained most of the drive. We decided to go to the expo first, which was very busy. There were buses lined up and it was pouring, so my husband dropped me off at the door to run in and grab my kit. Since we arrived later than I had wanted, and because my family was in the car waiting for me, I did not take time to shop.

We finally made it to our hotel, tired and hungry as we had been on the road for 8 hours. We opened up the back of the van and I asked where my suitcase was. My husband’s heart sank as he realized he didn’t put it in the van. When he told me it wasn’t there, I thought he was joking and asked again. Then I remembered asking my son to go upstairs and grab it, but he already had his shoes on as he was helping to load up, so I told him I’d get it. I then went into the kitchen, grabbed the cooler and a few other things. We looked around the front, locked up and left. I intended of course to go get my suitcase after getting the cooler but was distracted and forgot!

So when I realized that in fact the suitcase was sitting at the top of the stairs in our house in OTTAWA, it hit me….I honestly thought I could throw up, or cry…or both. My daughter hugged me and said “Mom, it’ll be okay”, through her own teary eyes. I just stood there, not able to think–honestly in a state of shock. We decided to go to our room and figure out what to do next. The hotel informed us that if we left we probably would not get a parking spot as they were already full. Saturday night….(race weekend too).

So what do we do?

We had just been through a tough year as a family and I had chosen to continue training through some of my darkest days. My journey to race day, was actually a journey my family had supported and in some ways experienced with me as they cheered me on, helped out around the house , held me accountable to what I was eating and encouraged me to get out for my runs.

Not racing didn’t seem like an option. My husband offered to drive home, but I knew that would mean driving most of the night and it was still raining. Plus, it was getting darker and now he was exhausted, so it was not worth the risk. I wouldn’t sleep anyways as I’d be worried. Our only option? The nearest shopping mall – The Eaton Centre. I made a list of what was mandatory if I was going to be able to race.

We walked to the Eaton Centre and I bought new gear. All of it! I honestly believe I was in a form of shock as I shopped – I can look back now and laugh but I was incapable of making decisions. My daughter would hand me stuff and talk with a sales clerk explaining what I needed. Of course it was fall and all the summer stuff had been packed and put away. The predicted temperature for race day was about 13 so capris and a tank were ideal. Waist packs were limited and there was no chance of finding a hydration pack, which I had trained with for all my runs.

I didn’t have my Garmin, and I refused to buy a new one, Leanne 2so trusting my training and how I felt was going to have to be how I ran and got to the finish line. I already had my new shoes and socks packed in my shower bag, but no insoles.

There were two choices I had that day; run or don’t run. I think either would have been appropriate and certainly okay decisions, BUT for me not running didn’t even cross my mind. How I was going to get to the start line was the only thing that mattered. So I ran in all new gear, with nutrition I hadn’t trained with, without knowing what my pace was, with a waist pack on instead of my hydration pack. But I ran. For 42.2K I trusted that I had trained for this–that I was doing what I had set out to do.

It wasn’t easy, and I seriously questioned if my family would be allowed to come on course and carry me the last few kilometers. I pictured myself crawling at one point but somehow my legs just kept moving forward until I crossed the finished line!

During the race, I kept thinking I had nothing to prove. I didn’t need to run a marathon ever again. I think I might have even told my family when they hugged me at the end that I have no desire to run another one. Half way home, 5 hours after the race, I thought to myself, maybe it’s like childbirth, maybe with time you say yes to another. By Monday morning (the day after the race) I already decided to run the Ottawa Marathon!

So believe in yourself, believe in your training, and believe you will accomplish what you set out to do. Even if it doesn’t go according to the plan. You have got this!

Posted in Digital Champions, Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon | Leave a comment

Honest Ed’s unveiled as the Toronto Landmark on this year’s 25th Anniversary Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon finishers’ medals.

David Mirvish, owner of Honest Ed's proudly displays the 2014 STWM Finishers' medal

David Mirvish, owner of Honest Ed’s proudly displays the 2014 STWM Finishers’ medal

TORONTO. July 14. The Canada Running Series, organizers of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, announced today that Honest Ed’s world-famous “Bargain House” will be the featured landmark on this year’s 25th Anniversary finishers’ medals for the marathon, half-marathon and 5k events, to be run on October 19th. The unveiling took place in a noon-time ceremony on the main floor of the store at Bloor and Bathurst with owner David Mirvish, Store Manager Russell Lazar, and Race Director Alan Brookes. They were joined by runners Rick Rayman and Virginia Lee, the only two people on the planet who have completed all 14 editions of the 42k, full-marathon.
This will be the 7th year of the “Landmark Collectors’ Series” that has previously featured Old and New City Halls, The Flatiron Building, the Princes’ Gates and the ROM. The much-coveted medals, which reward the major accomplishment of completing Toronto’s signature marathon, will be taken home by more than 25,000 participants, to 60 countries around the world, as well as every Canadian province and territory, and 40+ American states.
“We’re thrilled to have Honest Ed’s on this year’s medal,” said Brookes. “Runners come from around the world to take part in the event, and they are looking for not just a life-achievement but a ‘Toronto experience’. Honest Ed’s is a unique Toronto icon and a special part of Toronto culture, history and our city’s growth. The medal will ensure they take home a prized piece of Toronto.”

Store Manager Russell Lazar & owner David Mirvish unveil the "Honest Ed's" STWM14 medal in the "Landmark Collectors' Series"

Store Manager Russell Lazar & owner David Mirvish unveil the “Honest Ed’s” STWM14 medal in the “Landmark Collectors’ Series”

As the Great Toronto Getaway proclaims, “New York has Macy’s, London has Harrod’s, Chicago has Marshall Fields, and Toronto has Honest Ed’s. It’s quite an attraction – honest!” Founded in 1948 by Ed Mirvish, Toronto’s Bargain House has brought us 160,000 square feet of deals, 23,000 light bulbs on its outdoor sign, and the legendary signs and one-liners:

  • “How cheap can a guy get? Come in and find out!”
  •  “Only the floor boards are crooked”
  • “Honest Ed’s is for the birds: cheap, cheap, cheap!”
  •  “Come in and get lost”

With Ed’s famous birthday parties, Christmas turkey giveaways and the growth of the surrounding Mirvish Village, Honest Ed’s has also been an important part of building our community. Russell Lazar has worked at the store for 55 years – all but the first 10 years of its existence.
“Thank you for letting us be part of this year’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and such a special anniversary,” said David Mirvish. “Thanks for honouring our store, for providing an opportunity for so many charities to raise funds for good causes, and for putting Toronto on the running map. I know it is something my father would treasure.”

Virginia Lee, Russell Lazar, Alan Brookes, David Mirvish, Rick Rayman with STWM14 medal and iconic Honest Ed's as a backdrop at Bloor & Bathurst

Virginia Lee, Russell Lazar, Alan Brookes, David Mirvish, Rick Rayman with STWM14 medal and iconic Honest Ed’s as a backdrop at Bloor & Bathurst

“I think it’s our best-ever medal.” said Canada Running Series designer Inge Johnson. “The detail is superb!”
Russell Lazar then unveiled the latest sign in Honest Ed’s, “Don’t Just Stand There – Start Training!”
Runners are encouraged to run to to register for the races before they sell out, and stake their claim to an “Honest Ed’s Finishers’ Medal”. On Race Day, October 19th, the corner of Bloor and Bathurst is also a great place to watch the masses of runners go by, just past the 3km mark. “Don’t just stand there – cheer!”

Canada Running Series [CRS] is the nation’s premier running circuit with 8 events: 4 in Toronto, 3 in Vancouver and 1 in Montreal. It annually attracts some 60,000 participants and raises more than $6 million for some 250 mostly-local charities. The Series includes the IAAF Silver Label Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, and the Athletics Canada National 10K and Half Marathon Championships. The marathon alone has been estimated to generate $33 million-worth of economic activity for Toronto, take up over 15,000 hotel room-nights, and create the equivalent of 100 full-time, year-round jobs. Since 1999, CRS has gained international recognition for innovation and organization. We are strongly committed to staging great experiences for runners of all levels from Canadian Olympians and International stars, to healthy lifestyle people and charity runners; and to making sport part of sustainable communities and the city-building process.

Posted in General, Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon | Leave a comment

Running Is The Most Selfish Thing I Do. By Karyn Cooper

TORONTO July 13th 2014. Karyn began running in 2011 when she randomly decided to run a few laps at a local gym. It was a stressful time, having struggled for years with infertility and miscarriage. Running those few laps seemed to lighten the stress and frustration. She then set a goal to train for and complete a 5k race. After crossing that finish line, she was hooked. Since becoming a mom in 2012, running became an even bigger part of her daily life. She has since completed several 5k’s, several 10k’s, and the 2013 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half-Marathon. Running allows Karyn to relieve stress, take time for herself, feel more confident, and be a healthy role model for her young son. Connect with Karyn on Twitter @coopkaryn and on her blog Run Karyn Run.

Running Is The Most Selfish Thing I Do. By Karyn Cooper.

Running is the most selfish thing I do.  I often complain about the challenges I face during training, but running actually gives back more than it takes.

People sometimes think I’m nuts for scheduling my life around training runs, running at night after a full day of work and toddler time, etc. My husband even rolls his eyes occasionally when I plan my life around training, but running has actually given me more than I ever imagined.

Running is selfish because it makes me look better. Despite struggling with blood sugar issues and post-baby body issues, I’m in the best shape of my life.  Sure, there are things that could be better, but I feel great about my 36-year old body.

Running is selfish because it improves my mental health.  Being a wife, mother, friend, daughter, sister, and full time employee can be tiring.  Running makes it all go away.  Running makes me happy.  Running makes me feel confident.  Running makes life better.

Running is selfish because it has created meaningful connections.  I am part of a running community.  I feel that sense of community whenever I read a blog about running, register for a run, go on Twitter, etc.  I AM a runner.  I BELONG to this community.  No one really cares how fast (or slow) I am or how far my most recent long run was.  Runners support other runners, and that’s all that really matters.  It’s awesome.

Lastly, running is selfish because it allows me to give back in ways that I never imagined.  Since I started running, I’ve been able to contribute to charities like the Canadian Diabetes Association, my local food bank, The David Busby Street Centre, Sick Kids Foundation, and more.  It’s been the most unexpected and rewarding thing about running.

So, running is something selfish that I do to enrich my life.  It’s starting to define who I am and it’s becoming intertwined with my values and beliefs.  It’s become the most amazing thing that I’ve ever done for myself.

Posted in Digital Champions, Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon | Leave a comment

Running In The Family. By Amanda Bond

TORONTO July 10th 2014. Amanda (Mandy) has been running since her track and cross country days in elementary school. She picked it up again in 2010 after a rather lengthy break, inspired by her marathon-running dad with whom she ran her first full marathon – STWM in 2011. She is a trail running enthusiast and recently completed her first 50K ultra-marathon. Mandy’s next distance goal is a 50-mile trail race, which she aims to complete before the end of the year. STWM 2014 will be Mandy’s third 42.2K. Besides running, she is a fan of the mental and physical benefits of regular yoga practice, walking everywhere, fuelling a day with a near-absurd amount of good coffee, and having one-sided conversations with her animals. Connect with Amanda on Twitter @amandalea_b

Running in the Family. By Amanda Bond.

Amanda DadNot too long ago, when organizing some closet space at home, I found an old cookie tin sitting on a shelf. Inside, chronologically organized with a corresponding cue card list in my preteen printing, were ribbons and medals from years of school and regional track, cross country, and runs organized by my dad’s work. The memory that came back the strongest was that every year for regional track, my dad took a vacation day from work and came to cheer me on. Every single middle school June, no matter how hot, not matter if I was running in one event or three, he was there. He celebrated with me when I was happy with the results and made it easier when I was unhappy with them, offering advice or a plan or some words of experience. Which, really, is not so different from how things are these days, twenty years later.

My dad found running as an escape originally – from a very small, busy house; from a stressful job. It soon became a passion of his, a part of his day where he could reflect and brainstorm and just generally release stress. “Be ready when I’m back from my run” was not an uncommon time frame in our home when I was growing up. And his races, when he started running them, were family events. We would go and cheer him on, in the heat and in the rain; in Toronto and throughout Ontario and Quebec. My dad began running marathons yearly or more often, and this continued for him until he wasn’t enjoying it anymore, when injuries and general life made training feel more like a job than like something enjoyable. Around the same time, when I was in mid high school, I had stepped back from running as well – I was working part-time for the first time, homework was increasing, and it wasn’t something that fit for me then.

Much later on, when teaching a contained special education class and working with teaching assistants, I discovered the escape factor of running on a cold, snowy lunch hour. It was tough and it was also exhilarating. It built “alone time” into my day, which I didn’t have otherwise. And it was almost immediate love. I began running regularly, and when I wanted more out of it – wanted to try racing – I went to my dad for advice. I explained what I could do at that point; would it be reasonable to run a 10K in April? Dad said, for sure. And I asked – would he run it with me? My dad, with more than a decade off of running even casually, said he would. And he started running again. He was there to keep me calm at the start of my first official race. When we saw each other on the course, he had encouraging words and advice. And he was there to celebrate with me at the end, when I was elated and when I had finally discovered what all of this was about. 

My dad and I registered for the upcoming Amanda Dad 22011 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon soon after that. I didn’t know what I was getting into. When I would get discouraged, or injured, or when I was having a rough time with my goals, I would call my dad. When I’d phone for my mom and he’d answer, we would always have a run chat first – “How was your run today? What’s your mileage like this week? Everything feeling okay? Okay, I’ll get your mom.” When marathon day arrived, freezing cold in beginner’s-mistake too few layers, long socks pulled up over my arms, standing at the start with butterflies, waiting to begin, my dad was there. My dad had words of experience, and advice, and he told me, “More than anything, enjoy it.” And I did. I loved it. When I finished, in the crush of finishers and spectators, I somehow managed to find him; those moments are a blur in the happiest sense of the word. My dad and I ran a marathon together. We had the same finisher’s medal.

I found out afterward that my dad had a tough time with his training leading up to the marathon. For him, it was less than enjoyable. But he did it to be there for me, to run with me in the kind of race that I had gotten to cheer him on at when I was young. 

While we’ve race together since, we haven’t run another marathon together. Instead, he’s been there to cheer me on much like when I was a middle school kid at track means. When I had a disastrous fall marathon last year and limped much of the last 12K, my dad, in jeans, walked and jogged alongside me, there to help me make it across the finish line. When I ran my ultra this year, my dad waited for me where the trail came out of the woods and jogged with me up to the last 300m of the race, there to celebrate a new accomplishment.

My dad, marathon runner, my biggest fan, source of the best advice I could ask for, recently wrote this about the marathon we ran together: “The training for STWM 2011 was difficult as I had to force myself to train and I relate it to the aging process. However, I can say it was the proudest day of my running career. We are headed to Gaspe in a few weeks to attend a wedding and my daughter is excited to get some distance running on the coast and maybe in the mountains. I am hoping I can do a run with her on the coast. I cannot do the distance she does due to lack of training and maybe age, but will go as far as my body will allow and let her know when my running is ending so she can continue on by herself.”

But I am never really by myself; not with my dad’s support of all my running endeavours.

Posted in Digital Champions, Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon | 1 Comment

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

Posted in Digital Champions, Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon | Leave a comment

Eric Gillis confirmed, prepares to run fast at Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon 2014

TORONTO. July 3. It gives me enormous pleasure to make ERIC GILLIS our first Pro Athlete announcement for the 25th Anniversary running of our Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon event. Eric has been an important part of the recent history of the race. None of us who were there, or watched the broadcast, will ever forget his “eyeballs-out” sprint to the line in 2011, to achieve the qualifying standard for the London 2012 Olympic marathon by one second [see photo below]. Imagine. All that training. Racing 42.195 kilometres. And you make your Olympic dream by ONE second. One step to glory! One step away!

Eric is a marvelous ambassador for STWM, and for our sport of distance running in Canada. As a two-time Olympian he is the consummate professional — dedicated, determined and tremendously hard-working. He is a remarkably consistent performer.

Beyond that he is a wonderful role model, not just as an athlete, but as a husband, father, and someone committed to getting out in the community to make it a better place. He’s especially great with kids and schools groups. Paul Gains’ latest feature speaks to some of Eric’s skills in balancing life, family and running at the highest international levels.

GOOD LUCK to everyone training over the next few months. I look forward with excitement and anticipation to seeing all of you cross that Finish Line on Bay Street with Eric on October 19th.

Alan Brookes, Race Director.


Eric Gillis Rebuilding For 2014 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, by Paul Gains

Eric Gillis in his famous, all-out sprint to the STWM Finish line in 2011, that earned him a place at the London Olympics by ONE second

Eric Gillis in his famous, all-out sprint to the STWM Finish line in 2011, that earned him a place at the London Olympics by ONE second

Less is more as Eric Gillis looks ahead to the 2014 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon this coming October 19th searching for a new personal best time.

The 34 year old, who has twice represented Canada at the Olympic Games, understands the importance of taking the pedal off the metal occasionally to rebuild, not only the body, but the mind. He plans on being refreshed and replenished when he lines up for this IAAF Silver Label race for the fourth time in his career.

On May 25th he won the 2014 Canadian men’s marathon title in Ottawa to highlight a busy spring racing schedule. More recently he and his family have been spending time at his parent’s home in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. While family time has been precious when he returns to Guelph in early August he will begin the necessary buildup towards the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

“I did quite a bit of racing in the spring so I am taking a step back,” he explains. “I am getting out there once a day and putting in a solid run, then getting to the gym more and more, getting into a routine. I am putting in the work training wise, a couple of hours in the morning. That’s it for running.

“I will do a little less racing leading up to Toronto and put the emphasis on time. In Ottawa I was looking at tactics and executing my racing strategy, which was to try and run a negative split and work the back end. I felt quite good after Ottawa and felt I raced quite well. The buildup for Toronto will be more emphasis on running a personal best time and getting the most out of my training on that day time-wise.”

Eric Gillis finishes 5th overall in a top international field [2:11:49] at STWM 2013

Eric Gillis finishes 5th overall in a top international field [2:11:49] at STWM 2013

Gillis’s three best marathon times have all been run on the Toronto course. Who doesn’t remember his Olympic qualifying mark at the 2011 edition of the race when he ran 2:11:28 to earn his place? Last year he came close to that personal best running 2:11:49. But he remembers fondly the 2010 Toronto race where he recorded 2:12:08 making a big breakthrough.

“I like the weather that I had in 2010 in Toronto which was my first time doing the Toronto race,” Gillis says. “The course is good enough to run a fast time. I enjoy turning back against the masses on Lakeshore, I enjoy that stretch.

“It’s a course that I feel I can run well on and run fast. You know what? After running it three times and, being mostly happy each time, I have the feeling I can run fast. Especially 2011 when I had my personal best on that course. The course is fine. The pavement doesn’t change but the wind that day was crazy. To run fast on a crazy windy course then ….if I were to get a day like 2010 again that would give me the opportunity to run fast. I know I have done it before and can do it again.”

As always he gives credit to the Canada Running Series team and Race Director Alan Brookes for providing a setup designed for Canadian marathoners to run fast times. The pacemakers chosen to help the elite Canadians are one factor and the enormous crowd support is another.

“I definitely felt the support with shouts of “Go Reid (Coolsaet), Go Eric” and then with the half marathon finishing and the crowds around the finish at that time,” he recalls. “There were people in 2011 who even said that they had their goal to finish the half marathon to watch me finish. That was neat. So the atmosphere is definitely supportive.”

The active ‘sabbatical’ Gillis has been taking for Toronto has also taken off some of the strain his wife Emily bears when he is in pure marathon training mode. A few years ago the couple bought some land near his parents’ home and are going to landscape it for camping purposes – a ‘back to basics’ experience for them and their two young children.

“You eat up more time when training for a marathon,” he explains. “Recovery is more important. There’s getting to bed on time at night and getting the sleep. It’s actually more work for my wife, with Emily having to get up with the kids through the night, then she’s the first one up in the morning. She did that with Ottawa. She is supportive of that and I am able to keep running because of it. That something that is a challenge but we are up for it for the next cycle.”

Despite his enviable curriculum vitae he remains well motivated according to his long time coach, Dave Scott-Thomas.

A hungry Eric Gillis was absolutely determined to be 2014 Toronto Yonge Street 10K  champion!

A hungry Eric Gillis was absolutely determined to be 2014 Toronto Yonge Street 10K champion!

“Yes. I see the hunger as strong as ever,” the coach declares. “I think there’s a combination of forces that get people out the door running and certainly some of it, in his case, is the pragmatic element, it’s his job. He works very, very hard at it. But at the root of it, he just genuinely loves it.

“I don’t think you can ever replace that and swap things out. This has been a really fun year. He’s been in a different zone and that was conscious on both our parts. Early on we felt the Commonwealth Games was not going to fit into the program, So we wanted to make this a year of just doing everything we needed to do with his body and mind to just feel good and he has been racing through the roof and been showing up and working hard. He’s got that big grin on his face and he’s ready for more.”

Both Gillis and Scott-Thomas believe there’s a fast time in the cards whether it is in Toronto this year or elsewhere. And he is not completely satisfied with two Olympic appearances either.

Eric followed up his Yonge Street 10K triumph in April by successfully defending his National Half-marathon title at Banque Scotia 21K de Montreal

Eric followed up his Yonge Street 10K triumph in April by successfully defending his National Half-marathon title at Banque Scotia 21K de Montreal

“Certainly running a time in Toronto that got people excited that would give me that elation,” Gillis reveals. “Sub 2:10 is a number that I would really enjoy. It’s possible. I don’t think I can take it for granted and I don’t know when I will do it and I am certainly not predicting it in Toronto. But it’s something that would be fun for me to do. That and finishing top 16 at the 2016 Olympics would be another one that would put a smile on my face. Those are two things that, if the stars aligned, that would be quite fun.”
Gillis is the first elite athlete to be named for this year’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and over the coming weeks he will be joined by some of the world’s best. All add to the competitive nature exuding from the race, a 25 year old fixture on the calendar, as a matter of fact. Gillis will revel in the excitement and hope it leads to that personal best he covets.


For More Information and to register: (next price increase is July 28th).

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Running? Why Would I Do That? By Michael Lobsinger

TORONTO June 29th 2014. Why does Digital Champion Michael Lobsinger run? To be more awesome, that’s why. His philosophy on life is why keep doing what you’re doing if you can be doing something better or doing more? That’s how he’s approached his running. He started with 5k obstacle runs and ran his first half-marathon at STWM last fall. This year Michael is excited to join the Digital Champions taking on the full marathon on October 19th! Connect with Michael on Twitter @mLob_Creative.

Running? Why Would I Do That? By Michael Lobsinger.

Here I am writing my first blog as a Digital Michael Lobsinger and Steve LaytonChampion for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. That feels like a large responsibility. I think it means I’m supposed to tell people my story and hopefully inspire them to run more and live healthier. Wow, big stuff.

So lets start with a story. Everyone likes stories!

Once upon a time there was a young kid. He was gifted with a good metabolism and basically didn’t need to worry too much about what he did or ate because he stayed in relatively decent shape no matter what. Yeah for genetics!

Then he turned 30. Boo!

Bad eating, laziness and a few other things started to catch up. Nothing too bad, a little overweight, aches and pains that shouldn’t have been, exhaustion when he wasn’t tired and difficulty bending over to tie shoe laces (that one felt the worst). In addition to that the emotional problems started to creep in and were getting out of control. Anxiety, depression, stress… all those fun things that creep up on you when you’re sitting around doing nothing with too much time to think.

So it was time to change.

The boy’s best friend (and fellow Digital Champion) Steve had already started running and he was happier. That was good, but running? Eww. No thanks! When people asked the boy why he didn’t run, or ride a bike or do anything active, he would reply: “Why would I do that? I have a drivers license. I have feet so I can work the gas, brake and clutch. I don’t want to do something boring and dumb like running.”

Then his friend Steve presented an interesting challenge. He said Hey Mike, you know how you’re a comic book nerd? How would you like to do an obstacle race that’s kind of like Superhero training?” SOLD!

Michael LobsingerSuddenly running seemed like a means to an ends. Although the boy still hated running he was competitive and wanted to do well at the race, so he started training.

A few years later and a with a few fun run/obstacle races under his belt, suddenly running wasn’t the worst thing in the world. Steve came to him again. “Hey Mike, this organization called CRS has asked me to be a Digital Champion for the Yonge Street 10k. You should do it with me.”

Digital Champion. That sounded cool. So he signed up for the 10k to support his friend. By now running was becoming a lot more fun. The boy felt better, was less emotionally disturbed and he was looking dead sexy!

When the 10k was done, the boy was hooked! He loved this stuff, and he loved the medals and the feeling of pride and accomplishment he got from the races. Again Steve said “Hey Mike, now I’m a Digital Champion for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, you know you want to do it with me?”

There was no hesitation this time. He signed up for his first half marathon and trained all summer. It was great. He felt great. He looked great. He loved it. By the time the half marathon came around he was already excited and wishing he’d trained for the full marathon!

That’s where the story brings us to today.

I’m training for my first ever marathon with the CRS team and I get to be a Digital Champion for it on the 25th anniversary of the run of all things!

This is going to be great! I love using my feet for something other than a stupid car.
I can’t wait for STWM to get here this year. I’m excited about training. I’m excited about the people I’ll get to meet along the way and I’m excited about this new accomplishment I’m going to achieve.

Thanks CRS for the opportunity. Thank you Steve for getting me going. And most importantly, thank you me, for being awesome and working for this! Man, I’m great!

Posted in Digital Champions, Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon | Comments Off