Everything I Need, I Already Have. By Lara Winnemore

TORONTO August 24th 2014. Lara Winnemore loves running and is excited to share her love of running with others as a 2014 STWM Digital Champion training for her first full marathon. Lara competed in track and cross country in school but stopped doing sports and dance in her teenage years. Fast forward 20 years and running helped Lara get back in shape after starting her family. Running was instrumental to maintaining her sanity as a working mom but in 2010 it took on a more meaningful role in assisting with her recovery after sustaining various injuries in a car accident including a traumatic brain injury. While her life looks different now, running has helped her realize that while loss shapes us it does not have to define us. We can still strive to have an amazing life! Connect with Lara on Twitter @viva_lara.

Everything I Need, I Already Have. By Lara Winnemore.

LARA Winnemore BlogMy kids always ask me after a race, “Did you win mom?” and I laugh. It’s hard to explain to a child that for even the serious recreational runner, winning isn’t necessarily a realistic expectation. But it’s a good question. What does winning actually mean? I once came in 8th in my age group (on my 40th birthday weekend no less) in a Canada Running Series 5K which was shockingly awesome, and I’ve never run that distance that fast again. For most of us, the concept of what makes a winning run is not going to be coming in first place. And so we focus on continuous improvement. Your first race in any distance is often entered with the goal to complete, and subsequent attempts for most of us are to set a new personal record or PR. At the same time, we are all aging, and at a certain point in time the experts say that means we are slowing down. I know, I know “But I never reached my full potential as a runner! I could still get faster!” And some of us will.

But we can’t ALL be outliers. I am slowly coming to accept at the age of 42, that despite my firm belief in myself, lots of running knowledge, a coach, and proper training protocols, I’m probably NOT one of those outliers. I saw huge improvements in finishing times as a beginner runner, but then I plateaued. And on top of that, I still suffer from some chronic health issues as a result of a car accident 4 years ago, so there really IS a limit to how much running I can do and as such how much faster I can get. I know I am not the only runner out there guilty of maybe putting too much pressure on herself to be AMAZING, to be BETTER, to keep STRIVING every day for more and more, despite maybe some real practical reasons why that might be a stressful and not so realistic goal long term.

So how do you balance desires, beliefs and reality? How DO we keep “winning”? Where running has taught me so much about myself and my ability to reach beyond my limitations, and has given me hope in the last 4 years since my accident that I CAN be strong again, yoga grounds me and gives me that balance. The concept of Ahimsa in yoga is really important – do no harm. Not just to others, but to ourselves. The frustration of not being able to run as well or train as hard as I used to can lead to disappointment, negative energy and harmful thoughts. And the dark side of yearning to constantly be better is always that we risk never quite being satisfied with where we are now – the idea that we aren’t YET good enough, that we need “fixing”. And then we miss out on now. Ahimsa teaches me to shift my focus away from all that – it’s the difference between goals and intentions, between winning and losing.

So instead of chasing PRs I’m now trying to experience “personal bests”. That, for me, is how I can keep “winning”. Same thing you say? In my opinion what makes a personal best run can have very little if anything to do with your finishing time. I think one of the greatest things about running is that it allows us to push beyond limits and go further physically and mentally than we can imagine. But in the same way that yoga is not just about the asanas or poses, running is not just about how fast you can go or where you place in a race.

One of the best races I ever had was also one of my slowest half marathons. But it was undeniably a personal best run for me. In May 2014 I ran the Toronto Goodlife Half Marathon as a member of Team in Training and raised $1500 for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society of Canada. Unfortunately I had sprained my knee and ankle cross country skiing for the first time in the winter which kept me out of training for 6 weeks. I did have a time goal when I started my training that was PR focused – to go sub 2 hours. But after my injury all my energy went to fundraising and fulfilling my commitment to run for those who couldn’t…my goal truly became bigger than me.

I decided to run “naked” that day – without a watch or a I am Already AmazingGPS device. (Gasp!) And something amazing happened. I ran by feel. I actually noticed the CN Tower and the cheering crowds, and even the other runners all around me. I noticed my breathing. I took time to walk through aid stations and thank volunteers. I smiled at spectators. I reveled in the sun on my face, felt alive when that blustering wind hit in those last few kilometers, and actually smelled spring in the air. I was grateful to be able to run even though it was hard! I truly FELT the words of our Team in Training honoured hero Lydia as I thought about her personal story of cancer survival she had shared at our inspiration dinner the night before. “Be who you already are”. For me that meant, already strong, already good enough, already a winner. Why hadn’t I noticed these things before?

Going in to the race I set an intention to simply have a positive experience. At the race expo I stopped by a booth where you could predict your finishing time and if you guessed right, win a prize. I thought, why not! It wasn’t a primary goal for me. I made a light-hearted, nonchalant prediction that I would finish in 2:06:30. Not a PR. In fact it was 5 minutes slower than my previous 2 half marathons. Amazingly, I crossed the finish line in 2:06:39, only 9 seconds off my predicted finish time, and without running with a pace bunny or ever looking at a watch. The best part was I had actually enjoyed the race, I was there, in that moment and AWARE. I had been mindfully present. And in doing that, I met my performance goal, which had been completely secondary to my reasons for running that day. When I got home and my kids asked me, “Mommy, did you win your race?” I said for the first time, YES, and absolutely meant it as my truth.

I woke up to the world during that race, and what happened was just the beginning of what continues to be a transformative experience as I now train for my first full marathon. I’m still pushing physical limits by the mere fact of setting an intention and acting on it. I’m training to run a freaking marathon for goodness sakes. Some days I just pinch myself with giddy excitement to see if it’s really real. Other days I moan like so many of my running friends as I contemplate new distance milestones. And on the days I am fearful, when my chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia flares up, when I must put running on hold to deal with the stresses of my personal life or to care for my family, I tell myself, “I am already strong and amazing. I don’t need fixing. I will be okay”.

In running as in life, there are things we can control and things we cannot. Fundraising for a charity that is close to my heart (my dad is a blood cancer survivor), drawing inspiration from my yoga practice and the amazing people I am meeting along the way, and lacing up each day from a place of positive energy, not fear, is helping me to make every run a personal best.

On October 19, 2014 I will run my first full marathon. As I look towards the start line, my running intentions are to:

1) Run for the reasons that are best FOR ME and not to prove anything to anyone else,

2) Drop expectations and instead run with acceptance and gratitude,

3) Remain fully present in my body and aware of the world around me,

4) Celebrate every step of the way.

Pema Chodron reminds us that we already have everything we need. And it’s true. So think about the journey you have taken just to arrive at the start line, BE who you already are, and know that YOU HAVE GOT THIS.

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How To Win A Marathon. By Steve Layton

TORONTO August 21st 2014. Digital Champion Steve Layton used to eat too much, eat the wrong things, and work long hours until his unhealthy lifestyle caught up with him. Obese and tired of it, Steve changed jobs, sleep habits and his diet for the better. Four years later Steve is fitter, healthier and happier and a proud member of the running community! Steve is thrilled to be running his 4th marathon at STWM and is honoured to do it again as a Digital Champion, enabling him to encourage others to test their boundaries and try running a marathon or other outdoor activities as way to get active and improve their life. Connect with Steve on Twitter @SteveWLayton and on his blog.

How To Win A Marathon. By Steve Layton.

Based on this blog’s title alone you might be Steve Finish line STWMthinking that this post will be a detailed report of how elite runners make there way on to a podium after 42.2 KM.

Nope, I’m writing this to explain how you, yes YOU, CAN WIN A MARATHON.

You win a marathon from the second you sign up for one by setting a challenge that is so big for yourself that it brings to the top the determination, self confidence and perseverance you know you have deep inside, but may not have a way to express.

You win a marathon when you realize that the challenge itself is a tangible manifestation of an obstacle you want to overcome. It can be representative of, and way to heal a deeper physical, mental or other personal obstacle you cope with everyday.

You win a marathon when you realize that running one is not just about your completing the distance, but taking the first step to start it.  This monumental single step grows your confidence with each step that follows as you run in to the unknown pushing your mental and physical abilities beyond what you thought was ever possible and beyond.

You win a marathon when unbeknown to you, your training, dedication and achievements leading up to, during and after the race inspires those around you to make positive and healthy changes in their lives as they watch you change for the better in ways that you often do not even realize yourself.

You win a marathon from the moment you announce you’re going to tackle one, to the moment you put on your finishers medal.  This is regardless of your pace / time or who finished before or after you.  None of these things matter in winning a marathon as the only person you are racing is your present self, your physical being, your fears, your uncertainties and you overcome them all the second you cross the finish line.

You win the marathon because you chose to challenge yourself when you did not have to.

You win the marathon because you chose to set an obstacle that seems to many impossible and found a way that worked for you to overcome it.

You win the marathon because once you have the experience, skills and determination that enable you to win a marathon, you realize, you have the inner strength to overcome anything.

See you all in the winners circle after #STWM.

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Kenya’s Peter Some Headlining Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, by Paul Gains

Peter racing hard at last year's Lisbon Half-marathon where he placed 2nd in 60:21. Photo: Victor Sailer, Photo Run

Peter racing hard at last year’s Lisbon Half-marathon where he placed 2nd in 60:21. Photo: Victor Sailer, Photo Run

TORONTO. August 19th. Although his training is going exceedingly well for the upcoming Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (October 19th) Peter Kimeli Some was not quite himself this week.

The winner of the 2013 Paris Marathon, in a superb personal record of 2:05:38, took the news that his beloved Manchester United had lost their English Premier League opener quite hard.

“I like football very much and my favourite team is Manchester United,” the Kenyan marathon star explains. “My favourite player is Wayne Rooney. I hope the Dutch coach Louis van Gaal will bring Man United back to the title in England and hopefully to be the best team in the world.”

Some has experienced the ups and downs of his football team over the years, mostly by watching the side on satellite television at his home. But there’s no getting away from the fact his focus is otherwise exclusively on running well in Toronto. The race, for the seventh consecutive year, is an IAAF Silver Label race and he knows he will face a formidable field.

The course record of 2:07:05, set a year ago by Ethiopia’s Derissa Chimsa, is one target but he is also aware that the fastest time ever run on Canadian soil is 2:06:55. That standard was recorded by another Ethiopian, Yemane Tsegay, in Ottawa last spring.

“I have the plan to run a new course record in Toronto,” he declares confidently. “And that’s why it will be very important that the weather conditions are good and that there will be strong and stable pacemakers. And of course, also, a victory is important for
me.

“My long term goal is to improve my time. When I’m in the shape like last year in the Paris marathon I can run again below 2:06:00. I hope I can run faster than 2.06:55 but I cannot predict the exact time. But with the help of God’s power I will do my utmost best.”

Some remembers the Paris race very well. Against a very strong field he took roughly three minutes off his personal best to stun the favourites.

“It was a strong field in the Paris marathon,” the 24 year old concedes. “Several athletes in the field had already run a sub 2:06:00 time. When I started in Paris, at that moment, my best time was 2:08:33, which I ran in the Frankfurt marathon. But I knew I was in really good shape so I was not fearing any athlete.”

Like many of his countrymen Some used his winnings wisely choosing to build himself a new three bedroom bungalow in Kapsabet, which he shares with his wife Kangogo Cheburet and their one year old daughter Sheerlen Jebet. He continues to plant vegetables and look after his cows and chickens when he is not busy training or recovering.

Although he is managed by Dutch based Volare Sports, a company which also represents such marathon stalwarts as Geoffrey Mutai, Wilson Kipsang and Dennis Kimetto, because he lives in Kipsabet, he does not train with them, but with his own group.

“Yes, training is very competitive,” he reveals. “Several athletes in the group have already run below 2:10:00 in the marathon or below 60 minutes in the half marathon.
Some of the strong athletes in my group are Stanley Biwott and Dickson Chumba. Dickson won this year’s Tokyo marathon and, in the past, the Eindhoven marathon in the Netherlands. I’m also training together with some of my brothers like Nicholas Togom (winner of a ten mile race in Schortens, Holland August 17 in 46:32).

“I run at least 25 kilometers per day. But in my long runs I go further. Depending on my program I run sometimes 40 kilometers, sometimes 35 kilometers, sometimes 30 kilometers and sometimes 25 km.”

Quite apart from the high altitude of the Great Rift Valley where he lives and trains genetics must play a part in his success to date. His father was Some Muge, the bronze medalist at the 1983 IAAF World Cross Country Championships.

“I’m inspired by my father,” Some explains. “He was a strong athlete in the past and he told me to try to become a professional runner. He also inspired my brothers to start running. My father was a farmer and well known athlete in Kenya. He became Kenyan national champion at 10,000 meters and cross country in the years 1982, 1983 and 1984.

“Unfortunately, my dad passed away when I was 8 years old. My mother encouraged me to run and she always watched and inspired me when I was running in training or races.”

Some has, in the past, represented Kenya on the world stage which in itself speaks volumes of his ability. A year ago he finished 9th in the 2013 IAAF World Championship marathon in the muggy conditions of Moscow. There he ran 2:11:47. But city marathons can be quite lucrative. Indeed, victory in Toronto would earn him $20,000 while a course record would be worth an additional $35,000. There are time bonuses on top of that not to mention a good appearance fee.

“Athletes who ran the Toronto marathon already have told me that it is a good marathon with a flat course and with good weather conditions,” he says. “I really hope the conditions will be okay this year again.”

With an international cast of elite racers and good pacing the course record could very well fall to Peter Some. Now, if only Manchester United can turn things around to make him totally content.

For more information on Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, see https://www.torontowaterfrontarathon.com

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Holding Onto Motivation, Keeping That Determination. By Amber Renton

TORONTO August 17th 2014. Digital Champion Amber Renton was one of those individuals who often looked at marathoners and thought they were ‘crazy’. After running her first half, she was hooked and had that burning desire to keep going! She knew she wanted to be ‘crazy’ too. After having to put her marathon dreams on hold because of an injury this past spring, she’s strengthening up and getting ready to conquer STWM this fall! Originally from a small, northern town called South Porcupine (Yes, that’s a real place), Amber now lives in Toronto and works as a Respiratory Therapist. She is a plant based runner who excessively tweets about her pets, diet and journey to 42.2! She is hoping to motivate, encourage and help other fellow first marathoners cross that finish line by sharing her training experiences. Follow Amber on Twitter @gingersontherun and on her blog.

Holding Onto Motivation, Keeping That Determination. By Amber Renton.

So here I am exactly halfway through training for my first full marathon. I started training nine weeks ago and I have nine weeks left until thousands of us come together at that starting line. Really, only nine weeks ago? I feel as though I’ve been doing this forever. Being at this halfway point through training, I’m about to encounter a new level of training I’ve never experienced before and start to run distances that a few short months ago did not seem possible. I’ve been asked by people along the way how do I do it. How do I find time or the motivation to get my butt out there day after day? Motivation is the easy part, it’s all around me. I’ve been lucky enough to connect with some amazing people through social media who are run streaking, marathon training, trail running, doing relays, charity runs, you name it people are talking about it. People from all different lifestyles and communities are talking about running and sharing their stories. I am in constant awe of the running community and it really inspires me to follow what they are doing. That being said, we’ve all heard that quote that the mind will give up a thousand times before our bodies will. Sometimes we need to change things up a bit to keeps our mind motivated.

A Friendly Boost

I am very fortunate to live in a city that has multiple running clubs that are willing to take in strays. On any given day of the week you can join up with a running crew and enjoy the company of others. If ever you get sick of running alone or need a little boost in motivation I highly recommend seeking out your local running crew and joining in.  In my experience all are very accepting of fellow runners regardless of speed which was really reassuring for me. If you are a runner in this city, I can guarantee you are a part of an accepting, unbiased, extremely friendly community of amazing people. You just have to reach out and join in! Having a commitment to show up somewhere and run definitely helps give you that extra push to make sure you get that run in on those days when you feel like it’s easier to make up excuses and skip out. These are especially helpful for the longer runs to ensure that you’re running at conversation pace. The company on runs that last hours at a time is always welcome as well!

Amber Blog 1

NightTerrors Run Crew. Photo Credit: William Chaupiz

Family and friends of course can be your biggest source of motivation, after all these are usually your number one fans! Every time someone calls me crazy or insane for training for a marathon it’s a rush of motivation. People are following your progress and cheering you on. Even though running has become an everyday part of your life, you start to realize that you are inspiring people around you. Have you ever felt that excitement when you have successfully shown someone the joys of running? Some have come to rely on you for that spark in motivation. A glimmer of inspiration. Any positive impact on someone’s life is a reason for me to push harder and to keep climbing.

Avoid Monotomy, Spicing Things Up

Let’s face it, running every day is not for everyone. Although I do admire those who can do it, injury and boredom are very real possibilities for the majority of us. Cross training has done wonders for me personally. I am still not the fastest runner out there, but I am very excited that I am currently injury free and going strong! Spinning and swimming are my go to cross training workouts. Both allow me to work on my cardiovascular endurance without pounding the pavement, giving my shins and feet a bit of a break. I currently cross train three days a week and run three to four times a week. Before cross training I was bogged down with sore muscles and injuries. It’s really made such a positive difference for me and the change up keeps things interesting as there’s always a new challenge awaiting me in each of the three sports.

As you can probably tell, I enjoy change. I do get bored easily so everything about my training continues to change week to week. In addition to cross training, I vary my running routes often. If I’m doing a long run I tend to get lost in a trail system somewhere. For short tempo runs, I’ll aim for flat surfaces to better gage and maintain my speed and for those short easy runs I often don’t plan it at all.  I just let my feet direct me around the nearby neighbourhoods. Variety is key to keeping my interest. Changing up the scenery and terrain has been an easy way to accomplish this.

Music is another way to keep boredom at bay. I have a lot of music, some of it organized, some of it scattered. Although it looks hilarious clipped to my clothes, I run with my little iPod shuffle. Whatever mood I’m in I add that playlist and if I really want it to be random, I put it on shuffle. It’s as easy as that. My brain works in mysterious ways, and even if I am forced to run that same route for a little while, by changing up my playlist it’s like a whole new route altogether! Music also flows closely with my mood. If the two clash, I’m in for a messy run! Sometime even though you’ve changed up your route and music, you still can’t seem to get out of that running rut. When all else fails I recommend forgetting about your training schedule altogether. Forget about paces and the marathon ahead, leave your watch at home and just run. Enjoy your favourite landscape and route, listen to your favourite music, keep your head up, look around and run until you feel like heading home. A few of these runs can remind you why you fell in love with running in the first place. Sometimes that’s all I need to get me back on track.

Avoiding Procrastination

As marathon training progresses, more of your time is required. Some days you need to dedicate 4 hours just to working out. That’s part of the journey, the road to getting to where you want to be. Some days you wake up full of piss and vinegar, other days you wake up procrastinating through the day pushing your run later and later. Although I’m a big fan of night time running, mostly because I work well into the evening most days, I do know that if you wake up and get your run out of the way, you won’t dwell on it and have time to make excuses as to to why you can’t fit in that day. Don’t think about it, lace up and get out there. Even if you’re tired, once you get out there and running, you’re much more likely to get that full work out in. There are more times then I can count when I’ve been sore and tired and have convinced myself that I’ll only run a few km to loosen up instead of the full workout I should be doing. Once I get out there, I always end up finishing the full workout and feeling pretty good about it. The hardest part is always just getting your butt out that door when your mind is telling you to curl up on the couch.

Amber Blog 2

Pace & Mind Run Crew. Photo Credit: Inge Johnson, Canada Running Series

Writing out your schedule helps keep your workout schedule realistic. I have a monthly calendar on my fridge dedicated solely to my marathon training. I write in my workouts in two week blocks and manoeuvre things around to fit my work schedule or personal commitments. Having a hard-copy helps stick to the plan and I get this odd sense of gratification when I get to check off the day. I also keep a log and each day type out what workout I was supposed to do, what I ended up doing, and how I felt about it. This keeps me accountable to myself and to my coach. No one wants to write down and admit that they have skipped a workout!

The next time you are thinking about skipping out on a run, think about how much work you have put in to get this far. Remember those runs this past winter? I think they still haunt me! How does that saying go? Don’t look at how far you still have to go, look at how far you have come! Nine weeks will go by in the blink of an eye. Get out there whenever you can and enjoy every step. I don’t know about you, but from losing toe nails to submerging myself into ice baths, this has been one heck of a ride so far and I know that crossing that finish line at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is only the beginning. I can’t wait to see you there!

 

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Running And My Quest For Honesty. By Sally Seabrook

TORONTO August 15th 2014. Digital Champion Sally Seabrook lives and trains just north of Toronto in Barrie. Being fit and leading a healthy lifestyle has always been an important part of her life and running has played an integral role in that. Diagnosed almost ten years ago with hypothyroidism also presented a new set of physical challenges for Sally and running has certainly helped her manage the ups and downs. Committed to make her physical and mental well-being a priority, running has served a greater purpose and over the past two years Sally has been able to take on opportunities for competitive running as well. Sally is honoured to be a Digital Champion for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and determined to go the distance in 2014. Connect with Sally on Twitter @SallySeabrook13 and on her blog.

Running and my Quest for Honesty. By Sally Seabrook.

It has taken me the majority of my adult life to Sally Seabrook Blogestablish a sense of balance amongst all that I’ve committed to take on….marriage, children, career, and higher education to name a few. Ok, let me clarify that I have a sense that there SHOULD be balance but am not yet perfect at achieving said balance. I am; however, closer then I have ever been.

Registering for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and being chosen to represent this years race as one of the Digital Champion Ambassadors has given me an opportunity to reflect on my past experiences with running and my present efforts at balancing marathon training and life. During this reflection I have discovered something rather horrifying…I am one hell of a liar!

I’m not talking about the little white lies we tell to others in an effort to spare hurt feelings. Her butt probably did look big in those pants right? I’m talking about the ones we tell ourselves in an attempt to rationalize or excuse our own behaviour.

I am guilty and I’m about to open the floodgates of honesty in an attempt to shed light for those of you who may be short changing yourselves as well. Here are the biggest and most frequent lies I’ve told myself over the years.

I have small children.

Making myself a priority was a consistent struggle when my kids were young. Being a young mother I spent my time, focus, and energy being a good mother and raising my family. Like most mothers taking time away from that to focus on myself usually resulted in an overwhelming sense of guilt! On the contrary! This is a great time to instill the importance of regular physical fitness in your children. Find ways to make fitness fun and a family affair. Children shouldn’t be the reason we don’t have time to be active, they should be the reason we are active!

I’m too busy.

I had the good fortune when my children were small to be a stay at home mom. However, by the time my youngest began public school I was more then happy to thrust myself into my chosen career field. Unfortunately, this provided one more reason for me to rationalize a break from running. When in fact, this was when I needed it the most. The reality is that most mothers today are in some way or another a part of the work force and despite the fact that time is even more sparse deserves to take time for herself.

Oh no, this doesn’t impact my running.

So here it is, less that a year and a half ago, I was a smoker. Yes, I WAS consistently running at this point and lying to myself that this wasn’t impacting my performance. Seriously, what a load of crap! My aha moment came on Family Day in 2012 when I realized the extent to which I was willing to mislead myself and my health. I needed to take care of myself and I needed to set an example for my children. I QUIT!

I just ran 30K so now I can EAT ALL THE FOOD!

In the last year and a half I was REALLY careful not to turn an addiction to cigarettes to one with food. My recent marathon training has helped me do this in that I see food as having a distinct purpose: FUEL! I never thought I would have a sports nutrition plan but I do and have come to respect its importance.

I’m tired.

So I’ve come to realize that there is tired and then there is “tired”. Both of them are important in their own right. When I wake up and I’m legitimately tired, as a result of potential over training, his is a cue that my body needs a rest day. I’m learning to take a rest day and not feel guilty, but rather respect the fact that this is just as good for my body. This is vastly different then I’m “tired”. This is typically the unmotivated side of me that just wants to stay curled up in bed on a rainy morning. This is where the push comes in and the reminder that I always feel ten times better when I’m done with my run.

Well there you have it. A progression of lies and excuses over the past 22 years that have often come in handy to rationalize not focusing on myself. Marathon training has been an illuminating journey of self-discovery where self-importance has become prominent and my quest for balance seems actually possible. Although, many who look at my weekly running mileage may argue an imbalance has swung the other way, those are the people still curled up “tired” in their beds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rob Watson: The Runner’s Runner Returns to Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, by Paul Gains

041_IJ_SVHM11_0832TORONTO. August 14th. Rob Watson remains one of the most popular runners on the Canadian scene as much for his willingness to race often as for his superb results. In 2013 alone he ran four marathons, eliciting “That’s Robbie!” comments from his peers.

When he lines up for the 2014 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on October 19th though, he will do so knowing his intention of smashing his own personal record of 2:13:29 is realistic. It will be ‘only’ his second marathon of 2014.

Last year he finished 11th at Boston (2:15:33), won the Canadian Marathon title in Ottawa a month later (2:18:34), raced to a 20th place finish at the IAAF World Championships in steamy hot Moscow in August (2:16:28) all before recording that personal best on the very same streets he tackles this October. That his body survived the punishment is still a surprise to the 31 year old.

“At the end of last year I was pretty banged up especially between the World Championship marathon and Toronto,” he admits. “I was barely hanging on. So to go out there and get a ‘PB’ in Toronto I was actually surprised I was able to do that. I wanted to allow myself to recover and relax this year because last year was pretty hard on the body.”

Together with coach Richard Lee, Watson, a native of London, Ontario who now resides in Vancouver, decided to change both training and his approach to the big races.

“We were kind of lucky we got away with that. ‘Next year we have got to focus on building upon this and being a little smarter,’” he remembers saying to Lee. “The big thing about this sport is you have to remain healthy and consistent so you don’t want a big injury and, when you run four marathons in a year, you are pushing the envelope and risking injury.”

Dylan & Rob

Dylan & Rob

Lee, who doubles as personal coach to Watson and his training partners, Dylan Wykes and Kelly Wiebe, as well as being the BC Endurance Project coach, is very much a hands-on coach. One of the first things he did with Watson’s training program is decrease the volume but increase the quality. Watson, a graduate of Colorado State University, now runs 200km in a week, much of it below six minute mile pace. Training with Wykes (2:10:47 personal best) has been beneficial, Watson confirms, though it can sometimes mean they run too hard.

“Yes it most certainly does get competitive,” says Watson, laughing. “That’s the thing when you have three pretty decent runners working together, somebody is going to be feeling pretty good one day, and they are going to want to push the pace a bit.

“But we are also mature and we understand the way things are. If we are doing a workout and Dylan is having a good day, the fact of the matter is he is a 2:10 guy and if he is feeling good he is probably going to thrash me. Sometimes I have to let him go and let him do his thing.”

Sensing the competitive nature of the training could sometimes pose a problem coach Lee often accompanies them on their long runs riding along on his bicycle.

“Kelly and I were out for a 37k run the other day and we were getting after it a little bit near the end,” Watson recounts. “We had coach Rich on his bike. He was like, ‘chill guys, chill, we are not out here to run fast, we are out here to run volume today so just relax.’ So it’s nice to have Richard there to put the brakes on us sometimes because we can get going. Dylan and I were supposed to go out for an easy 15 miler two weeks ago and we ended up hammering it. We had a legitimate workout two days later and we were both fried from it. Sometimes you have to be smarter.”

Another benefit of belonging to this training group is that they all live near one another in the Kitsilano Beach area of Vancouver. They socialise after training often sharing pizza and beer at Double DD Pizza which is right next to Forerunners, the running store where former Canadian marathon star, Peter Butler employs both Wykes and Watson, on a part time basis.

Watson laughs when he’s asked whether he has bought a car to replace the BMW he sold to finance his move to Vancouver several years ago.

“Actually Rich Lee gave me his old car,” Watson reveals. “It’s a 1997 Toyota Corolla and yesterday on the way to Seattle (to see the Toronto Blues Jays play against the Mariners) it went over 459,000 km. It’s not nearly as nice as my old BMW but it gets the job done. These things are indestructible.”

318_IJ_SVHM11_1259It’s a given that training and recovery take up most of his time these days. But he is also reading plenty to fill his spare time. Among the books he has been enjoying are Boys in the Boat” an account of the US rowing team that went to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin and Golden Spruce, a history of the British Columbia logging industry. He is also a keen fan of Manchester United and has plans, once the Toronto Waterfront Marathon is in the books, to attend a match at the legendary Old Trafford stadium. He laughs when he explains he has accumulated enough frequent flyer miles through his busy racing schedule.

For now everything is focused on getting a good result in Toronto, a race he obviously admires.

“The goal for Toronto Waterfront, I want to set a pretty solid ‘PB’” he admits. “It would be great to be a 2:11 guy; 2:12 would be alright too. I want to set myself up so that when the Olympic window opens up you have a legitimate chance to chase the standard, whatever that might be. You know I would love to run 2:11 mid in Toronto. That would be pretty sweet.

“The best thing about the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is just being Canadian and running a big time marathon in Canada. There is such a positive vibe there.

“There is so much support for Canadian athletes. (Race Director) Alan Brookes and Clif and the whole Canada Running Series team, they do a really good job taking care of us. They find us good pacers. It’s a nice relaxed vibe where they take care of you and all you have to do is go out there and run.

“It’s a pretty good course. If you have a nice weather day you can run really fast on that course and hopefully we will get a nice day on October 19th. Everything else is set up for us to run fast.”

Everyone is invited to race with Rob at Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront on October 19th; come out and cheer him on; maybe join him for his post-race victory reward of cookies and beer; and to definitely follow him on Twitter @robbiedxc . Race info www.stwm.ca

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Belarus Marathon Star Aliaksandra Duliba to Race Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, by Paul Gains

Aliaksandra on her way to her 2:21:29 PB in Boston this Spring

Aliaksandra on her way to her 2:21:29 PB in Boston this Spring. Photo: Victor Sailer, Photo Run.

TORONTO. August 12th. Over the past two years Aliaksandra Duliba has swiftly risen to prominence in international women’s marathon running becoming one of the most exciting prospects on the planet.

On October 19th the 26 year old Belarusian will line up in the 2014 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon with an eye on the course record of 2:22:43. The event is, for the seventh consecutive year, an IAAF Silver Label race.

Her marathon experience might be short but she has accomplished much. She will arrive in Toronto as one of the race favourites. In March 2013 she debuted at the Los Angeles Marathon emerging with a victory in a decent time of 2:26:08. That was good enough to earn an invitation to the 2013 Chicago Marathon where she raced to a 4th place finish in a new personal best of 2:23:44.

“I came to the marathon distance by accident – and good luck,” she declares. “During the years of 2009-2011 I was basically making my living competing in small races in France and Poland. Twice a year I participated in the national championships of Belarus and hadn’t even thought about running a marathon. At that time that would be the most ambitious and surreal idea.”

Duliba credits her agent the New York based Russian, Andrey Baranov, with moving up to the classic distance.
“I realized I was barely making my living from those small races and I was not moving forward,” she remembers. “That was the right time and Andrey Baranov approached me saying right away ‘Duliba, it’s time to get serious, you’ve got the potential of a marathon runner, just stay focused on one distance.’ And, he had the right coach for me.”

The agent introduced her to Ukrainian coach, Igor Osmak, and they began working together in the winter of 2012. One of the first things the coach did was increase her training volume. The partnership continues to pay off. Most recently Duliba finished 6th in the 2014 Boston Marathon in a world class time of 2:21:29, a result which bolstered her confidence in considering an assault on the Toronto race record.

Boston 2014. Photo: Victor Sailer, Photo Run

Boston 2014. Photo: Victor Sailer, Photo Run

“I have to ask your opinion,” she says good naturedly. “If my ‘PR’ is 2:21:29 and the weather conditions are close to ideal, like they were in Boston, am I capable of that record? But, to be honest, time is not the goal, the aim is to make the podium.”

Duliba will be accompanied by her fiance, Ukrainian marathoner Vitaliy Shafar, to Toronto. He has a best time of 2:09:37, which he ran in Boston, last April. The pair are living together in Kiev, Ukraine.

“During warm months we train in Kiev, actually in the countryside near Kiev, surrounded by fresh air and beautiful forests,” Duliba explains. “For the winter months we move to southern Ukraine, to the seaside town of Yalta, or go to Cholpo-Ata, in the Kyrgyz Republic. Usually it’s our coach’s decision depending on the specifics of the marathon we train for.

“Eastern-European athletes usually train differently than athletes from Kenya or Ethiopia, who are used to training in a group. Yes, there are other athletes in our group, we all see each other before the training, while parking a car, having a little chit-chat warming up, but women and men train separately. And we don’t pace each other. I personally like to train by myself, but for the long runs (20 – 25 km) I don’t mind to have someone from the group next to me, just to keep me company.”

As a young girl Duliba showed athletic promise and was enrolled in the Sport School of Olympic Reserve in Minsk, the Belarusian capital, where she specialized in cross country skiing. A local athletics coach happened to spot her running on the track one day and approached her. Some regional track and field competitions followed and her interest grew.

“I came from a family who had little idea of what professional sport is. At first they didn’t ‘get’ my passion for running and couldn’t understand why I didn’t choose a ‘normal’ job, like an engineer, or a teacher,” she explains. “It’s not that they didn’t approve it, no, they simply felt sorry for me not having days off or holidays, spending all my time training, being on a running diet all the time, not eating fast food, or mayonnaise, or anything fried. They basically thought of it as a temporary hobby of mine.

“But as time went by my accomplishments changed a lot. Now they are my biggest fans and support every single thing I do, and they help me a lot. When I visit my parents, and my older sister, they do everything to make me feel comfortable. They adjust their schedules to my training and resting needs.”

Formerly a track runner she experimented with some road racing in 2011 finishing a half marathon race. The seeds of her marathon ambition might have been sown at that point. Despite her impressive resume she admits she is still learning the marathon.

“With each marathon I gain new experience and confidence,” she says. “From those three marathons I learned a lot of lessons, mistakes were made, but corrected and lots of knowledge derived. I learned how to stick to the pace and tactics, how to react to the other competitors moves, how to be patient at some point and where to be aggressive to achieve victory.

“I also learned many small things which could make your performance a success or totally ruin it such as: what to eat before the race, how to make the elite fluids, how to get them right at the fluid station, which shoe model to wear depending on the weather and many things like that which I will all use in Toronto.”

Duliba and her coach have decided there will be no competitions prior to the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. They are looking for something special in Canada’s largest city. But she harbours very bold long term dreams.

“I think the biggest dream of each athlete is an Olympic medal,” she reveals. “It is also mine. But more realistically the goal is to make the national Olympic team and represent your country at your best.

“I am not chasing any time, or any record, I personally find it a bit self-distracting. My goal is to make podiums and enjoy the profession as a professional athlete and stay injury free.”

The Toronto record remains 2:22:43 and was set by Ethiopia’s Koren Yal in 2011. If weather conditions are right, and her competition takes the bait, we may well see it beaten by the Belarusian star. And that would be just the next step in this great athlete’s career.

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STWM Launches important 25th Anniversary Programme.

STWM 42k & 21k Start, 2001 at Flatiron Building, St.Lawrence Market

STWM 42k & 21k Start, 2001 at Flatiron Building, St.Lawrence Market

TORONTO. August 11th. Organizers of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon have launched an extensive programme for the 25th anniversary edition of the event, to be run on Sunday, October 19th, 2014. “From the very beginning, the race has been about inclusion, about inviting everyone, and building both sport and community together,” said Race Director Alan Brookes. “So we’re really pleased to be able to offer ‘something for everyone’ in this year’s 25th Anniversary celebrations!”

The centre-piece is a greatly expanded “History” section on the event website that now contains more than 100 images depicting key moments in the growth and development of the race, and of Canadian road racing scene. From changes in fashion, timing technology, courses and venues, plus unforgettable performances, the new section brings alive the lengthy road traveled to get to where we are today.

First edition! Coors Light Toronto Half-marathon & 5K, plus Charity Challenge for YMCA Community Fund. October 14, 1990. Artwork by late Kevin Hayes of Longboat Roadrunners

First edition! Coors Light Toronto Half-marathon & 2K Turkey Trot, plus Charity Challenge for YMCA Community Fund. October 14, 1990. Artwork by late Kevin Hayes of Longboat Roadrunners

The race was first run on Sunday, October 14th, 1990, as the Coors Light Toronto Half-marathon & 5K in support of the YMCA Community Fund. That year, the winners were American Olympic legend Joan Benoit Samuelson (72:37) – the first winner of an Olympic women’s marathon six years earlier in 1984 — and Virginia’s Steve Taylor (62:29). They took home Coors Light beer-can trophies as well as cash prizing. The event continued as a half-marathon and 5K until the 42.195 kilometre full-marathon distance was added in 2000. While the sponsors and charities have also changed over a quarter-century, the pillars of the events’ success have been remained the same: inclusiveness, and a measured balance between offering an international-class sporting event that puts the city on the athletics’ world stage, and a major, local, community fundraising festival. Scotiabank became title sponsor in 1997 and has remained so for 18 years. The innovative Scotiabank Charity Challenge was introduced at a pilot project in 2002, the Neighbourhood Challenge in 2004, and combined have raised a remarkable $20.97 million since that date – mostly for smaller, local charities.

To celebrate the quarter-century of the event and the 15th running of the marathon, organizers are also offering a range of souvenirs under the banner “25 Years Running”.

  • ALL participants are invited to download a free Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront “Digital Training Badge” to let everyone know that they are preparing for the special anniversary edition http://www.torontowaterfrontmarathon.com/en/training-badge.htmSTWM14-Digital.Badge-fnl
  • Begun last year, the “STWM Stars Programme” has been expanded to recognize those runners who have completed multiple Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Full Marathons.
    • this year, all those running their 5th STWM full marathon in 2014 will receive an “STWM Stars” beer mug sponsored by Mill St. Brewery.STWM-5StarMugs-TW
    • those running their 10th or more STWM full marathon in 2014 will be inducted into the new “Platinum Club”, will receive a special commemorative medal and a range of other benefits.STWM-PlatinumMedal-TW

(rewards can be picked up at the Awards Tent in the Post-Race Party Site on race day).

  • BROOKS, the official athletic footwear and apparel partner, will be offering an expanded range of souvenir merchandise at the race EXPO, at the Direct Energy Centre on Friday and Saturday, October 17th & 18th.
  • This year’s EXPO will also feature a “25 Years Running” photo display and Signing Wall. The display captures many of the memorable moments from a quarter century at the event, and will be drawn from the new, expanded “History” section of the website. The Signing Wall will then provide the opportunity for the 25,000 participants from 60+ countries to leave their mark on the special occasion.
  • The Guest Speakers’ Series on the main stage at the EXPO will also feature several high-performance and recreational runners who have already stamped their mark on the history of the event. Panel discussions will also compare racing Toronto Half Marathon/Toronto Waterfront Marathon over the last 3 decades, and how things have changed_mg_0880-web
    • These include Virginia Lee and Rick Rayman, the only runners to have completed all 14 editions of the STWM 42k — this year will be their 15th!

“So much has changed in Canadian road running in 25 years,” said Brookes. “This year’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, Half & 5K will be a great time to reflect on how far we’ve come together, and celebrate with an outstanding race weekend!” Everyone is invited!” www.stwm.ca

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Behold the #Runfie. By Andrew Chak

TORONTO August 10th 2014. When Andrew ran his first 10K two and half years ago, he felt like a hero. The city streets were closed just for his run. People cheered him on like he was an Olympian. He got a sparkly medal that he could keep wearing for days. And he had all-you-can-eat bagels at the finish. He was hooked. That first 10K lead to another 10K, and then a 15K, and then a half-marathon, and then all the way to six marathons. You could say that Andrew was a little obsessed. In fact, he won a blogging contest with iRun.ca and is now their “Obsessive Running” blogger.  With STWM, Andrew has run the 5K, half-marathon, and full-marathon races and he can’t wait to connect with others to talk all things running as a Digital Champion for this event. Connect with Andrew on Twitter @AndrewChak and on his iRun.ca blog.

Behold the #Runfie. By Andrew Chak.

You know who you are. You like to run. You like to selfie. You like to run and selfie and henceforth, you like to runfie.

Not only do the STWM Digital Champions love to run, they also love to runfie. Not surprisingly, they are photographic connoisseurs when it comes to sharing their runner’s high, latest running fashion statement, or some other form of badassery. So go ahead, get inspired by the imagery below and go forth and hashtag your very own #runfie.

Amber Runfie

The Sparkling #Runfie

Amber knows that the hour around sunrise or sunset makes for a beautiful glow. Amber also knows that her sparkling smile makes the sun pale by comparison.

 

 

 

 

The Souvenir #RunfieCory Runfie

When out and about, what better way to remember where your travels took you than to take a runfie in front of a local sign? Cory elegantly matches his shirt and headband to complement the tones of the signage behind him.

 

 

 

 

 

Amanda RunfieThe Show-Your-Terrain #Runfie

Mandy knows trail. And you know Mandy knows trail because she shows you the terrain she is running on. And she cleverly reminds us to stay hydrated at the same time. Thanks Mandy.

 

 

 

 

 

The Smile-And-Run-It #Runfie Karyn Runfie

Karyn shows her love of the run by always smiling through it. Was it hot and humid? Did she just fartlek? It doesn’t matter because Karyn’s smile is all we need to know.

 

 

 

 

 

Lisa RunfieThe Hold-It-In #Runfie 

We’re thankful when Lisa shares with us how hard it is to nail a speed workout. We’re also thankful she holds it in just enough to take a runfie.

 

 

 

 

 

The Running-For-Dear-Life #Runfie Andrew Runfie

Sometimes a run is motivated by pure survival. Was Andrew running away from bears? Zombies? No, it’s much worse! Mosquitoes.

 

 

 

 

 

Kenny Runfie

The On-The-Run #Runfie

Kenny shows us how to runfie during the New York and Boston Marathons. Kenny stays safe by only doing runfies during fun runs. And yes, Kenny sometimes runs marathons “just” for fun.

 

 

 

 

 

The Twice-As-Fun #Runfie  Petja Runfie

A run is double the fun when you share it with another. If Petja’s reptilian tongue scores him a duck-faced kiss from his lovely wife Andrea, who are we not to try the same?

 

 

 

 

 

The Epic Cow #Runfie Bridget Runfie

Cows are just cows. But when they’re part of a runfie, cows become epic. Bridget either ran really far or just next door to catch this cow on her run.

 

 

 

 

 

The I’m-Coming-Back #Runfie Karen Runfie

After at 5-week layoff due to injury, Karen is run-walking her way back to recovery and shows us that every bit of progress is a victory.

 

 

 

 

 

Leanne RunfieThe Classic Group #Runfie

Leanne and her friends show us a classic group runfie shot. Everyone is looking at the camera, no heads are chopped off, and the person with the longest arms is the designated photographer.

 

 

 

 

The All-Inclusive #Runfie Linda Runfie

Linda brings it all together with an all-inclusive composite runfie. Who did she run with? What was her time? What was her route? How far did she go? Linda knows we all need to know, so now we do.

 

 

 

 

Now’s it your turn to take your own #runfie and post it to Instagram or Twitter and join in the fun!

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Joy: The Run Diary. By Ravi Singh

TORONTO August 7th 2014. Digital Champion Ravi Singh savours the constant affirmation provided by putting on foot in front of the other. When he started running near the end of graduate school three years ago, he noticed a gradual shedding of self-doubt (and pounds), a growth in confidence, and sense of achievement that he never quite knew previously. Ravi’s first race was the Toronto Island 10K in 2012, which he ran in a long-sleeved cotton shirt and basketball shorts on a hot September day. He has since completed two half-marathons (including STWM in 2013), some 10Ks, and the Around the Bay 30K. He is looking forward to crossing the finish line of his first marathon at STWM on Sunday October 19th! Connect with Ravi on Twitter @RaviMatSingh and on his blog.

Joy: The Run Diary. By Ravi Singh

Joy is the only sustaining force in life. If you cannot find it in something you undertake, you are bound to fail.

ravi singh 2I was coming down Avenue Road from St. Clair Avenue, about fifteen kilometres into the twenty planned for my Saturday group run. Though it was the downhill portion of the run, it was supposed to be the most gruelling and difficult, the final stretch of a long run after you’ve already climbed your hills, hit your peak for speed, and logged more miles than anyone should care to on a Saturday morning.

At this point, you’re just trying to get to the end, praying that your legs will hold up, that you’re not about to suffer the consequences of failing to hydrate or fuel properly. If it’s a group run, you’re praying that you won’t experience the dreaded bonk and have all those who were trailing you fly past while you fall to the back of the pack and waddle your way to the finish. When it comes to the long run, these last few kilometres are usually the least pleasant.

It was our custom to run at 9 am on Saturdays, but this week we moved our start time to an hour earlier. Doing so afforded crisp breezes throughout the route which ran across Lakeshore, up the Don Trail, and through Riverdale Park and its unforgiving Rocky-esque stairs that I climbed onto Sumach Street. From there it was through Wellesley Park and onto Rosedale Valley Road, which also presented a gradual climb onto Yonge Street. Then it was up the not so gradual climb on Yonge to St. Clair, the latter of which we crossed to Avenue Road, where we started this story, to come south.

With about five kilometres remaining, I was certainly more fatigued than when I had started and that ought to go without saying. Mentally, however, I was soaring, having drifted away from the other runners and settled into my very own pace group well behind the fastest of the group, but just slightly ahead of the middle of the pack.

The earlier start made even Avenue Road relatively quiet and I wandered into my own mind. I love these little stretches that present themselves on every run where, even for a few seconds, the world around you shuts down and you dig something from your mind that you swear is so new and profound that you are suddenly on par with Nietzsche or Homer. You’re not, but your discovery is still a treasure to you and it keeps you in motion.

What I found in my mind was unabashed Ravi Singhjoy. I was ecstatic at feeling my legs still moving with no intention of giving out after nearly two hours of non-stop running. I savoured the perfect rythm of every inhale and exhale that I never struggled for and kept me moving along toward the finish. I smiled slightly when I realized that my head and core remained upright. I loved that my body was this perfect machine operating like clockwork and in my mind I felt I could go forever.

I found that sensation that running gave me very early on, an affirmation of strength that couldn’t be denied. I found joy in having both a mind and body powerful enough to push me up hills and across psychotic distances in all extremes of weather. I loved that I love myself when I run and that I was outrunning all the lifestyle choices and bouts of depression that could’ve killed me.

There’s a great joy in survival and in feeling that you’ve defeated something, an opponent, a goal, or some fragment of yourself. Indeed, the idea that we learned to run long distances in order to survive has gained traction among scientists over the years. We learned to avoid predators and hunt our own prey over long distances. We ran to survive and to conquer, occasions worthy of celebration.

Though I run without a spear and through concrete, I’m still running to survive, and each run is a triumph bringing with it that sense of joy that fuels further journeys. I don’t see running as labour. I look for and feed upon that joy because that joy signals that my body is equipped for survival.

Coming down Avenue Road, that realization somehow became more vivid than it ever had before, crystallizing what I probably had always known. My mind was not on distance or pace or other runners. Thinking of how glorious it was just to be moving, I trotted along like a child utterly fascinated by a new toy.

The fact is that you have to see running as a joyful experience if you’re going to keep going. You have to stop and savour all that it’s done for you and all that you’ve conquered in doing it. It’s not a chore. It’s survival. It’s growth. It’s joy.

 

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