Monday, 25 May 2015

Race Cheerleader = Best Job EVER!

This past weekend I volunteered as Runbird for Mizuno at the Toronto Women's Run Series and had one of the BEST EXPERIENCES I have had since I starting running a few years ago.

I was woefully under prepared for my first half marathon. And there was a woman in a red jacket who was also racing. She saw that I needed a boost. She fell in step with me at about 17km. She explained that she had run quite a few half marathons and asked if it was my first time. I said "yes" through gritted teeth as I struggled along. She ran in front of me to help block the wind. She gave me suggestions about how to switch up my form to reduce the lactic acid. But mostly she just cheered me on and helped keep me going. I have never forgotten her or her help that day. Kind Woman in the Red LuLu Jacket please know how much your actions meant that day.

So my goal when I got the start line was to be that person for someone else.

This year Mizuno wanted to switch things up and do things a little differently at the Women's event. Typically we act as pacers for a specific time or we volunteer at the finish line. This time of us Mizuno Girls had different objectives. Morgan and Clare were running the 5km event and acting as Cheerleaders. Phaedra and Michelle were out at the 14-15km mark on the half marathon course to cheer and pace the women as needed. Sabrina and I were positioned in along the final 3km of the course for both the half and 5km, given the task of cheering and pacing support.

Sabrina and I lined up in the middle of the pack for the half marathon and set out to our necessary post. We spread the word to the women around us that we would be on the course to help support them. And directed them to look for our Neon Green Visors if they needed anything.

I set up shop at the water station/turn around point for the 5km. My initial goal was to just cheer, high-five, and encourage all of the women as they past by for the 5km. Clare and Moran were taking bets about whether or not I would have a voice at the end of it. (* I am happy to report I still do*)

There was a bit of a lull as we waiting for the half marathon-ers to make their way back to us. But then I barely stopped moving for the next 2 hours.

My first run in was with Kristen and Lisa - both girls I recognized from Instagram. Kristen had an ambitious time goal, and by the time we met up, she knew she wasn't going to make it. As runners we have all been there. We have all had one of those days - where things don't come together and you spend the last few kilometers beating yourself up for not measuring up.

She told me if I didn't run with her, then she was going to walk. I said "No way", let's do this. I also informed her that she was running a half marathon at my speed workout pace - so she is pretty Amazing if you ask me. We gutted out those last few kilometers together, and she had a solid kick at the end.

Kristen and Lisa I think you both so strong and fabulous!! And for the record I would kill for your finishing time!

I made my way back and did my best to link up with as many women as I could manage. I only ran the last 2km, but I ran it so many times that I ended up covering about over 17km in total.

I ran with several first-timers, which is about as amazing as running your first half all over again. In last 150m I told one woman "You are a Bad-Ass Warrior Woman. Congratulations, you just ran a Half Marathon." She immediately started crying. And so did I. As runners, we have all been there too. Where gutting it out to that line means so much more than just your race day performance. It is about strength, hours of training, sacrifice, and perseverance.

I experienced every high and every low that a race could throw at you. And I was completely honoured to be able to support these women while they accomplished their dreams.

For me what was so amazing about the day and the event itself, is that at its very core, it was about Women Supporting Women. I was reminded how AMAZING women truly are. A little community formed almost instantly and we all bonded over our shared love of sport. 

It reminded me that Sport goes so much deeper than speed, distance, or PRs. Sport is a lesson in strength, determination, and the true definition of health. Sport creates a community of positive supportive people all working together to get stronger and be healthier. And Sport teaches us to love ourselves and our bodies for what it can do, not what it looks like. It reminded me why I do this.

Thank you for an amazing day and an amazing opportunity Mizuno.
And Thank You to all the women who let me be a part of their day in some small way.

Love your Favourite Darwinian Fail,