My Community

Running.

it levels the playing field

we’re on par with each other
we’re connecting thru one medium

we’re one, together.

there is no old
there is no young
there is no fast
there is no slow
there is no rich
there is no poor
there is no judgement

there is no royalty

there’s you
your shoes
the company
the laughter
the memories
the pounding of your feet on the ground
the sound of your breath with each step

the sheer joy of running

this is what we share
this is why we show up
this is community.

In the past week and a half, I’ve not only experienced this but lived it.

First, the 2nd VRC Annual Flight Crew X East Van Run Crew Summer Social – a gathering of run crews and runners from across North America.

Almost 200 wicked people that you’d want to get to know running through the streets of Vancouver, and then finishing up with delicious food, cold beers, rad hats, and statement socks. Conversations were flowing and friendships were strengthened and formed. Geographical barriers were non-existent. Laughter filled the air into the late hours of the night.

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Two days later, one of the biggest running parties took over Vancouver. The SeaWheeze Half Marathon brought together 10,016 runners from around the globe to crush a goal, experience Vancouver for its raw beauty, and celebrate over yoga and music in beautiful Stanley Park. The two biggest highlights for me:

  • I was part of a special group of 40 people who were Pace Beavers and were privileged enough to lead groups to their goal time. But beyond that, I was connected to not only the Pace Beavers who were all lululemon ambassadors, but to all ambassadors who came to SeaWheeze. Through multiple events, ending with a picnic style dinner at the SSC (lululemon head office), we shared, mingled, and connected, creating friendships and bonds that go beyond the weekend.

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  • As a Pace Beaver, there is a responsibility I have to have integrity in the promise that I will carry my runners across the finish line in a certain time. It may not seem like much but it is a true honour to lead and hold tight to the trust that runners from near and far have given to me. This was my 4th year as a Pace Beaver and I cannot begin to express how excited and overjoyed I get when I help someone achieve and crush their goal. This is what drives me to continue giving to the community in any capacity I can.
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Photo Credit: @lululemonYVR

Luck doesn’t begin to describe it. I feel as though I’ve won the jackpot when it comes to life and I keep getting the winning ticket. I’m an ambassador for both Vancouver Running Co and lululemon, each providing me avenues to connect to my community and space to create more. My passion is so deeply rooted in authentically connecting with people through our shared unbridled love of run and celebrating every success along the way. In all capacities. On all terrain.

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At the SeaWheeze Sunset Festival… with multiple run crews and ambassadors from around the globe, all as one.
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An Emotional August

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Do you ever feel so overwhelmed that you become speechless? Does your heart ever swell so much that the only way to express it is through tears? Do you ever sit back and wonder how you got to be so lucky?

Those thoughts and feelings have been coursing through my blood for the last while. August was an extremely emotional month for me – so much so that I needed to give myself some time and space to find the right words. But, the right words will never come so these will have to do.

Like I said, August was an emotional month. I couldn’t have packed more into it:

There were only 5 weekends in August and 3 were full. Somewhere in there, I had to fit in training for my next ultra (Cle Elum 50k), lead the lululemon Robson Street Run Club, see friends and family, and relax.

In and amongst all of that, two very unplanned things happened.

On the Wednesday before SeaWheeze, it was a day like any other. Work during the day and then Run Club. Run Club gives me so much. I had a vision at the beginning of the year for Run Club and it was to build a run club that was a strong tight-knit supportive family, and it was very much becoming a reality. These amazing people inspire one another, support one another, motivate one another, and they make Wednesdays the highlight of my week. The fact that they are continually present for one another and for me is a pretty special thing. On that day, we were planning a route that goes down Bute to the seawall and then running along the seawall. Andrea, an educator from the store, asked if we could do our weekly icebreaker at the park a few blocks away and I agreed. The weather was gorgeous and it’s a nice short walk. So, that day, like any other, we left the store and walked up Bute towards Nelson Park. Two blocks in, a group jumped out cheering and with signs – it startled me! My first thought was, “Who are we surprising?” and then, “Why don’t I know about it?”

Lo and behold, that person was me. Earlier in the year, I set out to start an initiative called #GoalForward. It was an initiative to bring together the things I was passionate about – community, running, goals, and philanthropy. People would apply for #GoalForward, a program where they would get rewarded in charitable dollars for attaining a SMART goal. I would offer to coach and guide them along if they wanted. If not, it was just a matter of connecting with them and if they crushed their SMART goal, then I would send them $100 in charitable dollars. The money from which I was drawing was part of another campaign – One Year, One Percent. This campaign challenged you to put aside 1% of your annual earnings towards charity. I took this campaign and topped it up to an even $1,000 to be given out to 10 people.

lululemon Robson Street was surprising me that day with the gift of paying it forward. They were supporting my #GoalForward initiative by gifting me $500 for the program. So, now, I am able to pay it forward and reward 15 people instead of 10. I was humbled, floored, and overwhelmed with gratitude.

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The second occurrence was around SeaWheeze. I was a Pace Beaver last year and it was so much fun. This year, I was asked to be a Pace Beaver again and I was definitely excited. I was going to be pacing 2:10 and was so happy about it because that was the goal time of some of the people in my run club. Not only do I get to watch them train up to the half marathon distance, I now get to bring them across the finish line.

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Kat, Alex and Winnie from Run Club were toeing the line with me and my fellow 2:10 beavers, Susan and Marisa. The gun went off and we set out to find our pace. Susan, one of the other 2:10 beavers, and I were keeping each other in check to make sure we weren’t going too fast or too slow. Our strategy was to give ourselves a couple of minutes cushion and to finish just under 2:10 so that anyone who finished with us would not only reach their goal of 2:10, but they would in actual fact crush their goal. Not too long after we started, I realized Kat was the only one with us so I kept my eye on her, encouraging her, reminding her to fuel, pointing things out on the course and throwing in a few comments and jokes along the way. We were also running with another girl who ran SeaWheeze last year and she said that I got her across the finish line in her goal time – awesome.

We entered Stanley Park and I knew things were starting to get tough for our group. But I knew we could do it. For Kat, I knew she had it in her to do it. After all the physical rigours of training, it all comes down to a mental battle. When your body starts to get tired and sore, self doubt starts to seep its ugliness into your brain. Distraction is the best remedy. So we kept the chatter going – or maybe it was self-chatter for me. We got to Lumberman’s Arch and saw Maya, another Run Clubber, cheering and it definitely lifted spirits. There’s a big hill at Lumberman’s Arch and Susan and I were shouting encouragements to power up the hill. When we got to the top, we realized we had almost lost our group so big brakes came out until they caught up. Oops, a bit too excited. I still hadn’t seen Kat and I knew that it would be bad news if I continued without her so I didn’t. We were well under our goal time so I basically hung back until I saw her. Then I continued forward in baby steps until she caught me. My Run Club knows that I’m a bit of a mother hen – I call them my babies, in fact. So, to leave one of my babies to fend for herself – not going to happen. All the while, I knew I had a responsibility of being a Pace Beaver. But I had time. I had minutes to spare. So I was safe. Kat and I resumed our positions – me slightly ahead and her just slightly behind. I kept telling her that she was going to get her goal (and she was!), that we was doing SO great (and she was!), and that we would do it together (and we were!). I told her not to rush it. We were going to do it in HER pace, not mine. When, and ONLY when she saw the finish line, and if she had it in her, she could pick it up, but we were going to cross that line together.

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And damnit, we did. And it was fan-freakin-tastic. I can’t even express the emotions I was feeling – words don’t do it justice. I was so proud of her. That day changed both of us and we will forever be bonded by that experience.

And, if you check the results, she actually finished 2 seconds ahead of me. 🙂

Dear Jon.. Running Your First Half Marathon ‘Above the Line’

Dear Jon,

A couple of days ago, you asked me for tips on how to reach your goal of running your first half marathon in August. I’ve thought about it a bit more and thought these tips might help you.

First and foremost, keep your goal ‘above the line’. I know you’re familiar with the phrases ‘above the line’ and ‘below the line’ but let’s elaborate for the outside world – at least, my interpretation of them.

In Goal Setting, we want to ensure that all of our goals are coming from a place that keeps you motivated, inspired, and ultimately excited. Setting goals from ‘below the line’ is, as you can guess, the opposite of this. It comes from a place that is filled with expectations and “should’s”.

It’s just hitting me that I have the perfect example of this.

  • My first marathon (read race report here) came from a place where I thought I should do it. Running a marathon was never on my life list but given the amount of running I was doing and had done, and from what others were telling me, it seemed like the right thing to do. Fast forward, I finished the marathon and I was near tears .. but sad tears.
  • My second marathon (read race report here) started off from a place where I thought I should do it, again. But as I progressed and learned more, I was excited. When I stepped over the finish line, I was again near tears .. but tears of joy.

First marathon = ‘below the line’. Second marathon = ‘above the line’.
First marathon = ‘should’. Second marathon = ‘will’.

So back to running YOUR first half marathon. I’ve narrowed it down to a few steps, because I am a HUGE believer of breaking things down into smaller steps to keep things manageable:

1.  Declare Your Goal! I know goals are structured in the “I will (blank) by (blank).” I’m asking you to take it one step further and describe it – give the why’s and how’s and read it back to yourself. Make sure it’s coming from a place that’s ‘above the line’ so it makes you happy and excited. Keep this with you all the time. If your goal isn’t going to make you happy, excited, inspired, and motivated, then what’s going to get you there?

2. Set Your Milestones!  These are benchmarks that lead you to your goal. These could be things like:

I will join a run group by [16 weeks before your goal race]. Your race is in August, so it would be “I will join a run group by April.”
I will run once a week in January.
I will run twice a week in February.
I will run three times a week in March.

3. Build Your Tasks!  For each milestone, there are a number of tasks that need to be done. For example:

Milestone: Join a Run Group by April
Tasks:

– Find the running stores close to work and home that offer clinics.
– Visit each of the running stores to find out which one suits you best.
– Ask your friends, family, or coworkers to join you.
– etc.

4. Tips! This isn’t necessarily a step but some tips to make sure you don’t stray from your goal.

– Share your goal, milestones, and tasks with a friend, spouse, or coworker (or all three!) and ask them to keep you accountable. Ask them to check in on you. Or join you.
– Schedule your workouts! Put them in your calendar and don’t “snooze” or “dismiss” them unless you’ve done them.
– Read your goal to yourself when you’re feeling unmotivated. You’re in the midst of Winter and it’s not the most inspiring time to get outside so read your goal to yourself and get jazzed up again! Do this often.
Bottom Line: Have Fun. If you’re not having fun, why bother? When you’re out on a run, try to be aware of your surroundings and how you’re feeling. At those moments when you are loving it, remember it. Are you listening to music? Are you in trails? Are you on the seawall? Once you know what those positive triggers are, use them. When you think running’s not fun, pull your positive triggers out and activate them!

I’m going to share a couple of fun facts:

Fun Fact #1 – Yesterday, during the photo shoot, we were asked to smile a bit while we were running. One person said that they don’t really smile when they run. But I do. And, coincidentally, the location where we were shooting is often the place where I AM smiling because it can sometimes take me by surprise how beautiful Vancouver is and how lucky I am. So I smile. Because it rocks.

Fun Fact #2 – I learned to enjoy my really long runs solo through my iPod. I used to never run with music but you can’t always convince your friends to run 3 hours with you in the rain at 3pm in the afternoon. So I used it as an opportunity to tour through Vancouver. To music. I called it my “soundtrack to the city”.

Fun Fact #3 – Those happy triggers that I talked about.. I’m not a great hill runner so when I’m getting back into training and am finding it difficult to walk out the door, I go to my default. I run the seawall. Both the Stanley Park and False Creek seawall. iPod set with fab tunes and hitting some of my favourite spots. Epic. And I fall in love with running all over again.

Ok, those are all my secrets – but not so secret.  Happy training and smile when you cross that finish line.

linda.