There is always something special about The Toronto Women’s Race series, especially the kick off race, the Half Marathon and 5km. The buzz before and after the race is the most unique and I always compare it to a giant girls weekend getaway.
Every year since this series has begun, I’ve race, paced and sometimes won the race. I’ve got to enjoy all aspect of what this series has to offer. This time, working for Mizuno one of the lead sponsors, I got to work the race. Not only did I get to work it, I got to help coordinate and organize a new version of our Run Bird race guides. I picked 6 of the most amazing, positive inspiring women I could think of and gave then designated spots to be on the course and inside the race. The reason for them to be there, was simple, to motivate, inspire and if possible help some of the participants reach their set goal. High fives, hugs, someone to cry and someone laugh was readily available on Sunday morning.
With Krysten, Michelle, Clare, Sabrina, Morgan and Phaedra we had an all-star roster of amazing women. Each had their own unique experience being a Mizuno Run Bird and shared with me some of their stories. The true spirit of the women’s running community was in full force Sunday, watching the girls make everyone’s race experience even more enjoyable.
I’ve paced people one-on-one in the past, but today was really special because of the reach & impact us Run Birds had on the participants. Rosanne, bib 671, was particularly extraordinary. She thought the race started later, started with the 5k runners, she is a Registered Nurse who came off a night shift & was the last half-marathon runner to start. That certainly didn’t stop her & she managed to pass a lot of people to NOT finish last. Just check out her smile in the photo coming up to the finish. It’s a special feeling when you can be a part of somebody’s accomplishments.
In addition, I had a great time tag teaming with Krysten, the neon yellow caps really help to distinguish us in the crowd & at a distance. It was great to hear all your stories & I love all the positivity from the group.
Clare had a very similar experience:
There was a lot of cheer on the course and we were getting a lot of positive responses from people. The high fives were flying and my voice was going from all the shouting (must learn some new phrases for next time…..)
My story is not any different to those described to us on the day. As we were hitting the 3km mark I came across a women who was starting to struggle and head was falling! I ran up to her and started chatting. She had recently started running and had joined her local Running Room on a “Learn to Run” program. Her longest run to date was 3km. I asked her what her goal was for today and she said her goal was to only stop and walk 2 times during the race. I asked her how many times she had stopped so far and she said 2. She was visibly disappointed as she felt like she needed to walk. I told her that was fine if she need to walk but lets trying slowing down a bit to catch her breath before regaining her pace. We did this and I kept her distracted for the final 1.5km and she got in without having to stop! She was delighted and gave me a big hug and thanked me for getting her in. She even dragged me over to introduce me to her husband and two daughters.
Krysten got a little misty eyed during the day watching women kick butt. She told me:
One of the first girls I ran in was probably one of my most memorable. Her name is Kristin and I recognized her from Instagram. She had an ambitious time goal and by the time I met up with her, she knew she didn’t hit the time she wanted. She was frustrated and I could tell she wanted to give up at that point. Sabrina ran her to me at the 19km mark and I said I would run her in. Kristin said she wanted to give up and she wanted to walk. But I said no, we were running and she was running an amazing pace (4:30/km) – even if she didn’t think so. We kept that pace and ran strong all the way in. I know she didn’t get the time she wanted, but she tagged me later on Instagram to say how grateful she was for the boost at the end. And I may have gotten a little misty eyed.
What I loved the best about the event and the day is that at its very core it is just about women lifting up other women and supporting each other to live our dreams. If we did more of that every day, there would be no stopping us.
The Run Birds stayed to the very end, going out to grab the last 12 women on course and running to the finish one by one, smiling all the way.
Being a part of someone else’s experience is extremely rewarding. It’s like getting to relive your first race experience all over again and again and again. As runners we all know that feeling when we just want to quit and call it day. We know how hard it can be to climb out of that dark spot. The Run Birds erased the doubt, made the runners believe and reminded them pain is temporary, but memories last forever.