Dylan Wykes Faces Fatherhood and Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, by Paul Gains

It gives us enormous pleasure to announce the addition of Canadian Olympian Dylan Wykes to this October’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon Start List. “Anytime we can add an athlete of Dylan’s calibre, it greatly enhances the anticipation of a thrilling race, gets the juices and the buzz flowing for all of us,” said Race Director, Alan Brookes. “That Dylan will race the Vancouver Eastside 10K as his tune-up event is a super, added bonus!”

With Eric Gillis already confirmed for STWM, it means we will have 2 of our 3 Canadian Olympic marathoners from London 2012 in this year’s race — the third, Reid Coolsaet, not racing owing to injury.

How fast can Dylan and Eric go on a good day? Can they finally take out Jerome Drayton’s 2:10:09 record? We got the Women’s Record last year with Lanni Marchant; will we finally see the Men’s go down this year?

Will Dylan get his race in before the baby comes? So many great things to chatter about; so many things to look forward to this Fall!

Here’s Paul Gains’ latest feature for us to enjoy.

Canada's #1 ranked men's marathoner at London 2012 Olympics. Photo Credit: Victor Sailer, PhotoRun

Canada’s #1 ranked men’s marathoner at London 2012 Olympics. Photo Credit: Victor Sailer, PhotoRun

TORONTO. August 5th. Canada’s Dylan Wykes will make his third appearance at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon with the fingers on both hands crossed, hoping that medical doctors are precise.

The IAAF Silver Label race is scheduled for Sunday October 19th. Wykes’ wife, Francine, is due to give birth to the couple’s first child five days later. The couple met while attending Providence College on track and field scholarships.

Two years ago Wykes rose to number two on the Canadian all time marathon rankings list with a 2:10:47 performance at the Rotterdam marathon. Only Jerome Drayton’s thirty-nine year old Canadian record (2:10:09) is superior.

But Wykes, a 31 year old Kingston, Ontario native, who now resides in Vancouver, would like nothing better than to claim that record. Given the circumstances his decision to commit to the Toronto race – where he will join fellow Canadian Olympian Eric Gillis on the start line – was not an easy one to make.

“I want to be present for the birth of the baby,” Wykes declares, “I was trying to decide whether it was worth risking not being there by going to Toronto and also where my head would be mentally if I was in Toronto and Francine went into labour in Vancouver while I was away. Francine and I discussed things; if we were both going to be comfortable with me not being there; just trying to see what might have been options. That was the main consideration.

“Her parents are in Cambridge. We talked about the possibility of (her having the baby there) but we are pretty set up here in Vancouver now and we decided it would be better to stay in Vancouver. And, Francine’s parents are going to come out while I am in Toronto.”

Two years ago he was Canada’s top finisher in the 2012 Olympic marathon finishing 20th in 2:15:26. That was his fourth marathon start in ten months. The Rotterdam race had been his third attempt at the Olympic qualifying standard. After achieving his Olympic dream even his coach, Richard Lee, wondered if he would ever sacrifice so much to run a fast marathon again.

“I think a lot of it for me was knowing the commitment that it takes and the sacrifices you have to make to make something like a Canadian record or an Olympic team,” Wykes reveals. “It’s huge. There have been times since then that I have questioned whether or not it would be worthwhile pushing through that again.

“Since April (of this year) I feel I am getting into a training groove with the group in Vancouver again and it feels like is something I am motivated to do again. I can sense that getting to that fitness is something I can achieve again. So, I am motivated.”

Dylan powers his way past "Gassy Jack" en route to victory at 2013 Vancouver Eastside 10K. Photo Credit: Chris Relke, Canada Running Series

Dylan powers his way past “Gassy Jack” en route to victory at 2013 Vancouver Eastside 10K. Photo Credit: Chris Relke, Canada Running Series

While he trained alone for most of his 2012 Olympic quest he has since been joined by Canadian internationals Rob Watson and Kelly Wiebe, all under the guidance of the head coach of the BC Endurance Project, Richard Lee. Already the results have been superb. A late entry to the Vancouver Sun Run 10k he finished a surprising second there in 29:11. Most significantly, on June 22nd he won the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon in 1:03:51.

“I had no training partners at all (before London) I did almost all my training on my own leading up to London,” he admits. “It’s good (having partners), it’s definitely part of what has helped my motivation to have this training group. The way I did it before I was doing everything by myself. That was hard to stay motivated. So it’s good to have guys like Rob and Kelly out there.

“We have kind of done a pre-buildup to the buildup and increased the mileage a bit. I went through some ups and downs after the half (Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon) but I am coming through it now. We should be doing our hardest training over the next five or six weeks.”

Dylan's back... leading the pack on his way to victory in June's Scotiabank Vancouver Half-marathon!

Dylan’s back… leading the pack on his way to victory in June’s Scotiabank Vancouver Half-marathon!

Wykes admits he watched the recent Commonwealth Games with great interest. Australia’s Michael Shelley claimed gold in 2:11:15 ahead of five East African athletes. The result at once had Wykes asking himself, ‘what if?’

“It was funny because the guy that won was a guy I wanted to key off at the Olympics because he has got some good results at championships,” says the Canadian star. “I ended up being a little ambitious (in London) and was maybe 30 seconds ahead of him at halfway. Sure enough, he came past me and beat me by a minute. He came 16th. So I have followed his career. I was watching the Glasgow race thinking, I could be in there. but, it is what it is.”

Only one race is planned, prior to Toronto, the Vancouver Eastside 10km which is also part of the Canada Running Series. It’s a race he won last year. His and coach Lee’s reasoning is to limit the amount of travel that can disrupt the final preparations for the marathon.

“It will be good to get in a bunch of training,” he adds. “I am not sure of the value of racing while you are in marathon training, to see where your fitness is, because it doesn’t really tell you a lot. You can try and rest but you are still tired from the (marathon) training. But it’s good to go through the motions of racing and realizing you are going to do this for real five weeks later.”

Drawing inspiration from American Meb Keflezighi who won this year’s Boston Marathon aged 38, Wykes believes he has a few more years in him, at least to get through another Olympic cycle, possibly two. But again motivation will factor into the equation.

“I really just want to get the most out of myself as I can,” he declares. “Obviously the Canadian Record falls into that. It just so happens that 2:10 is a barrier I would like to break and the Canadian Record falls within that. That’s huge, I would love to improve on my finish at the London Olympics, make another Olympic team. I look at guys who have finished in the top 10 in past years and I’d like to get to that level. That would be something that would be a nice touch.”

But, for now, Wykes realizes running his first marathon in two years is the next challenge on the roads along with becoming a father for the first time. Combining the two is something he will be discussing with his rival, Eric Gillis, a father of two.

“A guy like Eric he has spent the best part of his career as a father,” says Wykes with a laugh, “I’m sure he will have a lot of words of wisdom for me, how to prioritize things. It will be change in my life and, definitely, a shock to the system.”

For further information and entry into this year’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon events see www.stwm.ca

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42 for 24. By Dan Way

TORONTO August 3rd 2014. Digital Champion Dan Way is a familiar face among the Toronto running community. He started running and training seriously in 2010 after moving to the city to attend graduate school. Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon 2014 will be Dan’s 7th marathon. It was also his debut/first marathon back in 2011. Dan considers STWM to be his “hometown” race and is working hard to run another PB in 2014. Connect with Dan on Twitter @DansWay07 and on his blog.

42 for 24. By Dan Way.

Alan_vs_DanWayI’m not sure how it started or who initiated the wager, but when I line up at the start of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on Sunday, October 19th, there will be much more than just personal bests and pride at stake.

My goal, as always, will be to run as fast and as hard as I possibly can and to leave nothing out on the roads. But as I cross the finish after 42.2K, there will be one more reason and a bit of extra incentive to glance up at the clock and hope for a fast time. That being an ice-cold case of my favourite brand of brews.

Yes, that’s right: I’m running for beer! 42K for 24 beers. My prize if I’m fast enough. To do so I need to run faster than than Race Director, Alan Brookes did some 31 years before! 2:34:39 or better. Not my personal best time, but the time I nonetheless will aim to beat at STWM.

Few people truly appreciate the vast amount of time and energy that is spent planning and preparing in the days, weeks and months ahead of race day. Not just by those training to run the race, but perhaps more so by those working to organize it. This is especially true of a world-class event like STWM, which hosts some 25,000 participants as well as thousands more volunteers, spectators and race day officials.

In the past decade or so, there is one person who has done more to grow and develop the sport and activity of recreational running and racing in Canada. Working tirelessly and endlessly behind the scenes to ensure that each and every event detail has been taken care of. Catering to those at the front setting national records, those in the middle running for personal bests, as well as those further back raising hundreds and thousands of dollars to support worthy causes. STWM is but one of several exceptionally organized and implemented events hosted by the Canada Running Series, a small but committed organization responsible for many of the best running events in the country. Many could recognize their tireless and tenacious leader. Many more would not.

Fewer still know that on October 2nd, 1983 (some three years before I was even born), Alan Brookes ran his fastest 42.2K at the Toronto Marathon on some of the same very streets that I and 25,000 others will run on Oct. 19th, more than 31 years later.

2:34:40.

A personal best of some three minutes and a time he would never better in his five or so years of competitive club running. In fact, when asked about his subsequent races, Brookes seemed more proud of having run several 3:30 and even 4:00+ marathons with friends and fellow members of the running community. This included the 100th anniversary of the Boston Marathon in 1996, as well as running internationally in Berlin and London.

At the peak of his training Brookes was running 80+ miles per week in and around his native Guelph, Ont. as a member of the Waterloo County 3As (Amateur Athletics Association). Brookes says his number one motivation to train was simply “to beat the other guys [in the club]!” Brookes didn’t shy away from giving due credit to his club, his coach (Vic Matthews) and his many teammates who pushed and pulled him through the rigorous workouts and training. He’s convinced that being in a group, as part of a team, made much of the difference in how successful and how satisfying his running and training would be.

I couldn’t help but draw striking similarities Black Lungs Dan Wayto my own amateur running ‘career’ running and training here in Toronto with my own club, ‘the Black Lungs’ who offer endless support and motivation. Brookes is quick to credit part of the surge in running popularity to the growing number of run clubs and crews: especially among youngish, urban types, like myself, who seek the camaraderie that comes with belonging to a committed and at times competitive community. These crews can now be found filling the streets, tracks and trails of cities across the country at seemingly all times of the year. The loneliness of the long distance runner is no more, or at least it need not be!

Brookes is excited to see the running community continue to grow and flourish. He’s proud to be a part of it and his involvement and activism should be applauded. Brookes is an outspoken proponent of the sport of running at all levels as well as for the continued emphasis and importance of recreational running for physical health, emotional wellness and community spirit.

We all have our own reasons to run. We all embark on our own journeys to train, run and race. Brookes has been there before. He’s been an athlete, is now an organizer and has always been an activist. Before the races begin, we all owe a great amount of thanks and praise to those like Alan Brookes. Thanks to him, I will line up on Oct 19th with a greater appreciation and immense respect for the work of event organizers and directors.

And if I can beat Brookes’ time of 2:34:40, I’ll also get a cold case of beer to toast him with!

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That Inexplicable Feeling. By Alan Tou

TORONTO July 31st 2014. Digital Champion Alan Tou began running road races in 2013 and has never looked back. In September of last year, Alan ran the Oasis Zoo Run 10K. The hills and rain were very challenging and he ran it alone. He started the race just metres away from Reid Coolsaet and Lanni Marchant, then finished a few kilometres behind them. Nevertheless, it was an experience to remember. It marked the moment he knew he wanted to run further and faster. On the heels of running his first half-marathon in May and under the coaching of Rejean Chiasson, he is excited to make STWM his first full marathon. Connect with Alan on Twitter @alatus and on his blog.

That Inexplicable Feeling. By Alan Tou.

Waking up the morning after a light evening Alan Tou Tracktrack workout, I wasn’t feeling great but I definitely felt ready for an easy run. It was in the training plan and I was going to have company. “Company” was another Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon Digital Champion, Andrew Chak, who I was joining in the middle of his Saturday morning long run. For both of us, the pace was meant to be easy and manageable. That’s why I was so surprised, at around the 5km mark, to find myself wondering whether or not I’d be able to finish the back of the out-and-back. The feeling was foreign and without a name (maybe Olivier). It wasn’t anything in particular except that I was feeling off, mixed with a strong urge to stop and walk; to quit.

As runners, we often think and talk about how fit we are; to those who care and do not care alike. We have an idea about what good shape means for ourselves, and so when we hit the pavement, it’s with the intention of getting to that place or reaching beyond it. That speaks more to the physical side of training. Without the volume banked, after all, the marathon is an all but impossible challenge for the body.

What I was reminded of this morning is another critical aspect of training that I had quite honestly forgotten amidst the focus on fitness building: self-discovery. In other words, no matter how well conditioning is going physically, there are going to be days when we are not “with it” mentally. There is no accurate diagnosis for what I felt this morning or what brought it about, but I am certainly grateful for two things:

1) That it hit me during a training run and not a race

2) That I had good company to help me push through it

Now, if this feeling ever creeps up on me again, it will be familiar, and I will know with confidence that I can shake it off. Now, there is one less wrench that can be thrown into the middle of what would otherwise be a successful race.

There is an enormous abundance of material about running in existence or yet to be written; a lot of tips and tricks. Some of them are useful, but I would suggest the time spent sifting can be better spent running.

Our sport should be kept simple. Training will be slow some of the time, fast at others, short or long. All the while though, what we are always learning to do is to listen to our bodies. Those lessons are more important than any that I or anyone else can impart upon you. They’re also separate from the fitness. As Andrew has wisely said, “Bad training runs can be as good for you as good training runs.” The next time you are betraying yourself, inexplicably wanting to quit, be grateful that it is a feeling common to us all and that it is one that can be overcome.

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Kate Bazeley To Race Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, by Paul Gains

Kate powering her way past La Ronde en route to victory at 2012 Banque Scotia 21K de Montreal, National Championships

Kate powering her way past La Ronde en route to victory at 2012 Banque Scotia 21K de Montreal, National Championships

TORONTO. July 29th. Canadian women’s distance running has ascended to new heights in recent years and the latest talent to emerge is the ‘Pride of the Rock’, Kate Bazeley.

Two years ago the 30 year old Corner Brook, Newfoundland resident won the Canadian Half Marathon title at the Banque Scotia 21k de Montreal but then came the birth of her daughter, Amelia and a subsequent maternity leave. Now, back in the best shape of her life, she is intent on scoring a personal best time at this year’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (October 19)

The comeback, thus far, has been incredibly successful. She won the BMO Vancouver Half Marathon on May 4th in a new personal best time of 1:15:18 then finished 2nd to Canadian record holder Lanni Marchant at the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon on June 22nd. Last weekend she won the 2014 Tely 10 miler in St. John’s with a respectable time of 55:57 missing the Nicola Will’s 1986 course record by ten seconds.

These results have caused tongue wagging amongst the racing community: could she be the next great Canadian distance runner?

Bazeley is the first elite Canadian woman to confirm her place in Toronto which has been awarded IAAF Silver Label Race status since 2008 when the IAAF initiated elite race rankings. The race is also celebrating 25 years of running this year.

“I definitely want to ‘pb’ I want to go under 2:40 for sure,” she declares, “then, possibly get close to, or under, the 2:35 mark. That is like the ‘A’ goal.”

Until now, Bazeley’s one marathon encounter was a low key debut at the 2014 Houston Marathon where she ran a respectable 2:40:49. That was good enough for 7th place and the accompanying $2,000 US prize money – her biggest pay day to date.

Kate on course in her Marathon debut in Houston. Photo: Victor Sailer, PhotoRun

Kate on course in her Marathon debut in Houston. Photo: Victor Sailer, PhotoRun

“It actually felt pretty good,” she remembers of her debut. “The first ten miles felt great. And the last 7 or 8 km, that was when it was a bit of a struggle. But overall it was a really great experience. I don’t have any complaints about it, really. I did get that very tired feeling towards the end and I started to lose my stride. I felt pretty strong throughout – and positive. I thought it was a great experience.

“It was sort of in the back of my mind – 2:40. Being my first marathon you don’t know what to expect. I really wanted to get out there and run the whole race and finish. I knew that I was capable of running under 2:40 and maybe, on a great day, closer to 2:37 or 2:38. But, I was really happy.”

Since her return to training she has been coached by fellow Canadian marathoner Matt Loiselle ( 2:16:01 personal best) who raced the 2012 Tely 10 miler and was the Bazeley’s house guest on that occasion. They discussed working together at that time. Of course, that was before Kate was pregnant with Amelia. The pair communicate daily by texting, email and the occasional phone call, the latter usually before a race.

“Kate is definitely an athlete that follows directions easily,” says Loiselle. “She’s a very hard worker and is very tough. The only training partner she has out in Corner Brook is Peter (her husband) and, if he can’t run a workout with her, she has to do some pretty long and challenging workouts with no one else around. And she’ll do it, no questions asked.

“She’s got a great attitude and it’s easy to work with her because she doesn’t absolutely obsess about running. She takes it seriously for sure, but she knows there are other things in life and that makes things easy for me.”

A positive marathon debut for Kate! At the Houston Finish Line. Photo taken by STWM RD Alan Brookes

A positive marathon debut for Kate! At the Houston Finish Line. Photo taken by STWM RD Alan Brookes

One thing she learned from racing Houston was that she needs to increase her mileage. Prior to that race she was managing around 120 kilometres a week topping out at 130km. Loiselle has seen to it that the volume is slowly increasing for Toronto peaking at 150km a week.

Much of this training is done alone or with Peter, (a 2:36:36 marathoner himself), pushing Amelia’s stroller, along picturesque roads which seem to provide inspiration.

“We live near Gros Morne, about forty-five minutes away,” she reveals, touting the UNESCO World Heritage site.

“We have come across moose, many times, caribou, eagles, otters, mink catching fish, The road we run on pretty much every day runs along the Humber River, a really large river on the west coast. We run completely on that road and there’s always wildlife and people out on boats.”

Part of the fascination with their landscape is the fact they moved there only fifteen months ago when Peter took a job as an hospital emergency room physician. Prior to that they had lived in St John’s where Bazeley taught middle school. She is a graduate of Memorial University of Newfoundland – with degrees in nutrition and education – but she has no plans to return to teaching in the immediate future.

Bazeley admits seeking advice from fellow Canadian marathoner, Krista DuChene (2:28:32) especially about running on a treadmill. She says the roads in Corner Brook aren’t cleared of snow in the winter and she found it necessary to run on the treadmill for a couple of the worst months. Other than that she searches for helpful information on the internet.

“I do read a lot,” she confirms. “ When things pop up on social media or in a magazine I definitely take note and have a look, see what people are talking about mileage, nutrition, fueling, recovery, all of that. I do know what I should be doing and now I just have to go out and do it.

“And I did look up what a 2:35 was equivalent to in a half marathon. I think it was close to a 1:14 low and I know that I have work to do because my best (Half marathon) is 1:15 low. But Matt thinks that, based on my workouts, I could be able to run 2:35 mark. I sort of go by what he thinks.”

That time would take her into pretty elite company and make her competitive. Most significantly it would illustrate the enormous potential she has at the marathon distance while continuing the trend of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon aiding Canadians in their pursuit of international class racing. It’s an exciting prospect for sure.

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The Adventure And Foolishness Of Running. By Noel Paine

TORONTO July 28th 2014. Digital Champion Noel Paine is a distance runner with over 26 years of running and racing experience. He has run everything from the 100m hurdles to 100km ultra marathons. In 2013 he ran solo across the Grand Canyon a month before running a 100km trail ultra in Tuscany Italy. Aside from a passion for running, Noel also likes to share the stories of other Canadian runners via his personal blog along with one he writes for Canadian Running magazine. Connect with Noel on Twitter @NoelPaine and on his blog.

Running is not all medals and GPS statistics, soak in the adventure and foolishness. By Noel Paine

“You have to forget your last marathon before you try another. Your mind can’t know what’s coming.” - Frank Shorter, 1972 Olympic marathon gold medalist

Running is often about so much more than 294987_10151503337550370_1617982554_njust the distance from start to finish line. Even if you are a crazy marathon runner, you will only be out wandering the course for a number of hours. This is nothing compared to the hours spent sweating, chafing and cursing during training runs, stretching and doing other often ridiculous looking things to try prepare for a 42.2 kilometre personal battle.

This short blog will allow you to peer into the cobwebbed and cluttered corners of my mind and see what it comes up with for advice on keeping the running adventure alive and enjoying the foolishness.

The adventure

After 27 years of running I find the whole business of training and running an adventure and try and soak in the experiences. Having run everything from the 100m to an 100km ultra-marathon I can say I have taken in a good chunk of what running has to other. This does not make me any better than any other runner. But like a runner with perhaps a few more miles on the ole feet so I am passing along what little running-wisdom I have.

Here are some things to keep in mind when running and training. These are things meant  to keep running fun and adventurous.

  • Choose fast courses once in a while but also go for character, spirit and scenery
  • Enjoy your running and training, choose new places to train and explore
  • Look for new challenges whether it be location, distance, elevation or racing in costume
  • Remember that if you like running, it ought to be fun
  • Go for a run with a friend and explore a new route
  • Remember that if running is not paying the bills, take it easy on yourself mentally and physically
  • Pull the earphones out of the ears, leave the GPS at home, unstrap the fuel belt and just run once in a while. Soak your surroundings, the sounds and be at one with your thoughts whether in a race or on a run.
  • On cold, dark winter evening runs pretend you are a tough ultra runner, plow through snow drifts and revel in your insanity.

The foolishness

10250327_10154055537220370_5410238622864461502_nAlthough you man not appreciate it at the time, try and relax and enjoy the craziness of running, racing and just being a runner. We are a special group. Expect the unexpected, it could make for a great running story later!

Think about some of the foolish things we do:

  • Peeing in the bushes or wherever we can find before a race.
  • Wearing bright colours and short shorts not acceptable anywhere else
  • Lubing up our nipples, armpits and crotches in public.
  • Doing warm-up exercises and stretches that could often be mistaken for strange dances.
  • Strapping enough gear to our hips, arms, backs and heads to sink a ship.

Revel in the weirdness, foolishness and unexpected that can come with running. Over the years I have lost a good hat and t-shirt to mid-run intestinal distress, hammered around the last corner of a 10k course only to find I have made a wrong turn and now face the back of the finish line, showed up the day after a race, left a bleeding nipple somewhere out on a marathon course and arrived at work with icicles hanging from me.

Run on my running friends. Seek adventure, soak in your experiences and revel in your foolishness. See you out on the roads, and if I’m diving for a bush, don’t follow.

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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…”

Athlete?

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 stwm.ca 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

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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.

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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!

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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 stwm.ca 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.

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