Monday, June 20, 2016

16 Runs with 16 People: April Update (Part 5 of 6)

Run with Friend #13: The Beaches
Date: April 16, 2016, my first time running with a dog escort!
Temperature: 5C
Distance: 8K

Last Tuesday evening, as I was heading over to the Eaton's Centre for Nike Run Club's speed run, I thought I saw a tall, dark, handsome stranger pass me by. But what's great was that although this man was indeed tall, dark (from soaking up the weekend rays on the run) and handsome (mmhm!), he wasn't a stranger at all! In fact, Dave Emilio and I have not been strangers since we ran together just over 2 months ago. (Sorry for taking this long to write about our run Dave!)

The only thing missing from this post-run selfie is Dave's dog, Prefontaine!

I had reached out to Dave back in late March, because he had written an enthusiastic comment on a post that Jean-Paul Bedard had shared about us running together. I was so excited that another person would be interested in this idea of running with strangers! We finally met a few weeks later, on the morning where I had planned 2 back-to-back runs (with the previous one being with Melly). We planned to run along the Beaches of downtown Toronto where I had never ran before. It was sunny with a light breeze, and Dave brought along his dog, Prefontaine. I've never run with a dog before! What more could a girl ask for?! Dave suggested that we run along his "Peanut route" that will give me the 8K that I wanted that day. I appreciated how flat our route was, since I had my fill of hills from earlier that morning. We headed off on our run around 9:30am and I could tell that the Beaches was starting to wake up, as we encountered other fellow runners and walkers.

As someone who started out running and training solely on her own, I'm still getting used to the dynamics of running with groups and others in general. Dave also enjoys running on his own. In fact, he loves to run so much that he calls it his addiction. From the sounds of his running experiences and the different hats he wears in the local running community, he’s been able to turn this addiction into a purposeful passion. He's the original Beaches Runner, president of the Toronto Beaches Runners Club, and a coach at Adaptive Running Academy. Dave runs with a lot of people already. Why did he want to run with me? That exact question didn't come up, but I think he and I both crave the same thing as runners. Making connections with others who share our passion and being a part of a community. 

Even though this project of mine involves a numeric goal, it's not driven by how many runners I meet. If that was the case, I'd be stopping every runner I see! Imagine that! Me, stopping mid-run to run alongside another runner, introducing myself and asking if I can continue to run and chat with them. Not creepy at all, right? But no, I've decided to do one-on-one meet ups, and write about them afterwards. (I'll admit that the writing part has been very slow though. Running is much easier!) I want to know others' running stories, how running came into their lives and how we're connected. This project is my way of meeting runners, getting to know runners whom I'm likely already connected with, and getting to know what being a part of the running community is all about. My definition of community isn't based on geographical location, age, ethnicity, social economic status or running experience. It's about making meaningful connections! Dave reached out to me and I reached back! Sometimes making a connection can be that simple.

Someone walking their dog along a quiet section of the Beaches boardwalk. Taken post run.

Dave definitely knows a lot more about running than me but he didn't make me feel intimidated by this. Learning about how he gives back to the running community through the BRC and as a coach made me think about how I can do my part in giving back to the sport as well. In fact, I later saw Dave share a friend’s request for volunteers at a water station at the Goodlife Toronto Marathon and I ended up volunteering for a race for the first time! I definitely think that every runner should volunteer for a race sometime, even if only to experience what it’s like to be on the other side of the paper cups.

Of course, the topic of our next races came up. At the time of our run, Dave was training for the Goodlife Toronto Marathon and I was going to run the Ottawa Half Marathon. I confessed that I had yet to run the full marathon distance and I still can't imagine myself running for that long any time soon. I love the half marathon distance but part of me thinks that I may be "too comfortable" with this distance and need to push myself to go further. To my surprise, Dave told me to take my time. Better to run it when I feel mentally and physically ready for it, because the marathon will always be there. The marathon will wait for me. I like the sound of that!

Such a calm blue sky. The Beaches are beautiful. I envy where you live Dave!
Sure, the marathon will wait for me. But you know what won't wait for you? Registration for the Beaches Jazz Run! This year the Beaches Runners Club are the race directors behind the Beaches Jazz Run (which offers time chipped 5K, 10K and half marathon) happening on Sunday July 24th! Sign up for this fun summer race now! Dave will be there!! 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

16 Runs with 16 People: April Update (Part 4 of 6)

Run with Friend #12: Sunnybrook Park
Date: April 16, 2016, my first time running in Sunnybrook Park!
Temperature: 1-3C
Distance: 10.1K

Since most of my runs have now been with runners I haven't run with before, I often get asked about how my running goal came to be. Why did I set this type of running goal for myself? Why the number "16"? Why am I running with people outside of my local area? The answers to those are rather simple: Because I love to run and found that people I've met, rather than finishing times, have been my greatest motivators. The number 16 is pretty much random, but mathematically I thought I'd be able to get at least one running meet up a month, plus a few more in the summer months. And I don't want physical distance to be an huge obstacle for me when making connections with people, especially if they've reached out to me. Sure I won't fly across the country just to run with someone, but I'd drive to your area to meet up on a weekend morning, if it's not too far!

We planned to run 8K, but ended up running more. More running? Yes!!
And that was the original plan for our run, for me to meet Melly in her neighbourhood just outside of Toronto. Eventually this changed to meeting closer to the downtown area, since Melly knew that I wanted to fit 2 runs in that morning, with the next one being down at the Beaches with Mr. Dave Emilio. Thanks for being so flexible Melly! What's funny is that we had planned to run the Beltline Trail together, but we couldn't find a way in or maybe we just ran past the entrance, so we headed towards Sunnybrook Park instead. I had only heard about Sunnybrook Park but never run there before, so I was just as happy with this change of plans!

During our run together, Melly asked me a question that I hadn't been asked during a run yet: What's your fear? What a question! She almost had me stumped! Since we had been talking about why I started running with people I didn't know, I knew the answer. 

I have been afraid of Rejection. I see Rejection, as a kind of failure. And encountering failure is a sucky feeling. (Yes, sucky.) Failure is like quicksand. A state of mind where once you dip your toe in, once you even think "Boo. I failed.", you get stuck. Asking yourself questions like "How could I have failed?" or "Why am I such a failure?" only pulls you in quicker because you've already pinned yourself down as "failed".

Over the past year of job hunting, I have been rejected many times. You'd think that I would feel pretty indifferent about rejection by now. But I've only slowly started to genuinely accept it as part of the process. As a goal-oriented person, it's been about changing the expectations that I set for myself, and being willing to adapt my mindset so that I can still find satisfaction (staying away from the word Success here since it's often seen as the opposite of Failure) in the process of pursuing my goals. 

Telling myself to take more risks and think in a more experimental approach ("Let's try it and see if this works!" vs. "Let's get it done this way.") has been helpful for me and I keep it's this thinking that has propelled my "16 runs" project. Simply put, I'm learning to take myself less seriously! I figure that as I become asking people (whom I don't really know at all!) to run together, the easier it'll become. And if someone says no, I'll just shrug it off and move on, because it's not personal. It's just a 2 letter word and there are more people to run with! We tend to think that the worst will happen when the answer that we get is not what we imagined. If we're able to let go of imaging what will happen, that can free up space in our mind to accept alternatives. And usually good things happen. What's really funny (and amazing) is that nobody I've asked to run together has outright said No yet! 

Back to my run with Melly. After a question like that, I knew that Melly was a hard hitter. Our talk was no longer "small talk", we talked "big talk". Our 8K turned into a hilly 10K but that's how it is isn't it? When the conversation gets going and you just keep running, talk can get deep pretty fast and a longer run doesn't feel long at all. I felt totally comfortable chatting with Melly. Since our first run together, we've been in touch through our various race experiences and I've learned that she is a sassy woman who can look out for herself and one tough cookie. A cookie whose ribs keep popping out! But I'll let her tell you about that herself...

And you know what Melly and I definitely aren't afraid of? Hills!

What's your fear?

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The second part of  my Saturday morning runs coming up soon! 

Saturday, June 11, 2016

16 Runs with 16 Friends: April Update (Part 3 of 6)

Run with Friend #11: Running around my old high school neighbourhood
Date: April 9 2016, first time running with my high school science teacher! 
Temperature: -14C
Distance: 8.4K

When I was in high school, I was a science nerd, book worm and bank geek. I am now done school and I still love science, books, and play music (albeit not in a band, although I wish I still did). Some things never change. But luckily some things do. I was once chosen last during a gym class and distinctly remember the super sucky feeling settling in my gut that no A+ on a science test could remove. High school Gillian would never would've imagined that future Gillian would ever start running, never mind enjoy it enough to have run her 4th half marathon recently (Ottawa race update coming soon-ish... sometime this summer!). 

But in grade 11/12, something came over me and I signed up for my high school's track and field team to do the triple jump. The only "sports experience" I had was doing track and field in elementary school, where I somehow managed to get a third place ribbon for the triple jump for my grade. I must've thought that remembering how to do the triple jump was the same as being good at the triple jump.

The team's coach was my science teacher who had taught me science 3 years in a row and he was pleasantly surprised to see me signed up since I was never involved on any school sports teams before. He was always encouraging at practices, even though most of the time I was thinking: "What am I even Doing here?!" I don't remember much from my track and field team experience except that A) My jumps could never make it into the box. B) I still couldn't make it into the box during a preliminary track meet. C) Running during practices was not fun. I never understood why as a "jumper" I needed to practice running? D) I hurt my ankle (probably during one of those "not-fun" runs!) and didn't end up going to our final track meet (*phew*!).

In short, my debut onto the high school track and field team was embarrassing. And I just accepted that sports would never enter my life again.

Until it did! And I'm so glad because this meet up wouldn't have happened if running hadn't entered my life.

Happy smiles to match the pretty blue skies.

Mr. Roberts (my high school teacher mentioned above) and I reconnected last fall when I emailed him out of the blue. I had been meaning to contact him since I had started to run regularly 3 years ago, and finally made time to write out an email. Unfortunately, we hadn't kept in touch after my graduation. So naturally, I googled his name and my high school, hoping to look up his contact info. I found it, he soon responded saying he remembered me too!

I hadn't seen Mr. Roberts in about 7.5 years, but he didn't look a day older than when I last saw him at graduation. Same bright blue eyes, same big smile, and still loves teaching science and coaching track and field. It's true, some things don't change. He still keeps active by running, although cycling was his new found love. After our catch up session, we made a deal to meet up for a run (before I had even set this goal!) when the weather became warmer.

Spring came around, and Mother Nature was still giving us below 0 weather, but that didn't stop us! We set a date, and we were both pumped to run together! We caught up on our lives since our reunion a few months back, connected over our adventures in staying active and definitely shared lots of laughs... I don't remember over what exactly, I just remember the laughter!

I'm so grateful that Mr. Roberts and I were able to get in touch and meet up after all those years to run and laugh together as two adults! And yes, I still call him Mr. Roberts both because of habit and because I still see him as my high school science teacher. What can I say, some things don't change. But I know that us reconnecting has sparked change in that relationship. There is now the potential for future running meet ups, more laughs shared over tea and maybe even a bike ride together as adult friends? Sometimes change is good. 

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Update on "16 Runs with 16 Friends": I've already run with over 16 people!! I can't believe that I managed to reach this goal by early May!! My new goal is now to run with at least 32 people (double my initial goal) one on one, by the end of this year.

I also know that it is now June and I am very behind on updating my running meet ups from April and May. Bear with me! I'll try my best to write about all of April and May before June comes to an end! 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

16 Runs with 16 People: April Update (Part 2 of 6)

Hello from the Leslie Spit!
Run with Friend #10: Tommy Thompson Park
Date: April 3 2016, first time running the Spit!
Temperature: -15C
Distance: 12K

I didn't know Karen at all until a week before we ran together on that fateful Sunday, although I'm sure some of you reading this know her as @karengeterdone on Instagram and Twitter. Karen reached out to me on Facebook and her message was simple; she wanted to run with me! I immediately responded and we planned to run together a week later. We decided to run the Leslie Spit since I had never run it before and it was close to Karen's neighbourhood. All of this seemed almost too easy to be true! But

I was super excited to run with her partly because she was the first person to reach out to me since I've started telling people about my goal of "16 runs with 16 people"! She wanted to run with me! A total stranger! But the feeling was definitely mutual. During our initial series of back and forth messages, I let it slip that I was "just" running a half marathon as part of the Ottawa Race Weekend in May (which she also happens to be running) and she didn't let me get away with it. "Did you say 'Just' run the half?" Funny thing is, I remember myself saying the exact same thing to another runner not too long ago. Great minds think alike! (Even though great minds can be hard on themselves sometimes.) Karen also has a blog documenting her athletic adventures as a runner and mountaineer (her first love!), and she is also pursuing a similar goal of running with more running groups this year. Through our short exchange, I could tell that I wanted to get to know more about the person behind the positive voice!

Running with Karen was such a great time! 12K flew by in no time! Unlike me, Karen trains a group regularly, the Adaptive Running Academy. During our run, we did some sprinting up the hill that leads up to the beautiful lighthouse, and she also told me about fasting days where she wouldn't eat anything but 10 almonds after a morning run, and then run some more late that day with no additional food intake. As if that wasn't scary enough, she also said that her coach once had her sprinting for 8 minutes. 8 minutes straight! I don't know about you, but just hearing that has me gasping for air. Behind that big smile, Karen is also one tough cookie!

Karen and I are both training for the Ottawa Race weekend and are taking a similar approach: no tune up races, just steady training. For me, running Ottawa has turned into an opportunity to spread the word about #JPsTeam. For Karen, the Ottawa Marathon will be the spring marathon that she has long been training for. WE GOT THIS KAREN!! I feel so happy that we met and look forward to seeing her friendly face in Ottawa in less than 3 weeks!! There's no doubt in my mind that we'll be catching up on our race experiences over a weekend run after our time in Ottawa.

ALSO: Please don't believe Karen when she tells you her age. For a reason that is beyond me, her reported age is a whole decade added onto what her youthful appearance suggests. ;)

Sunday, May 8, 2016

16 Runs with 16 Friends: April Update (Part 1 of 6)

April 2 was World Autism Awareness Day! What better way to celebrate it than by running a Virtual Autism Awareness Race with friends who also love those with Autism?

Run with Friends #8 and #9: Autism Awareness Virtual Race
Date: April 2 2016, my first time running a virtual race!
Temperature: -1C
Distance: 5K

Michael, Danny and I love those with Autism!
When I saw that someone was ordering bibs and medals for a Virtual Autism Awareness in April, I immediately thought that I should find some people to run this with. I saw that Michael and Danny were interested in this event, so we connected and soon set a date to run together on World Autism Awareness Day!

I met Michael and Danny last summer when we worked at Autism Ontario Kids (AOK) summer camp, but I never knew whether they liked to run or not. Regardless, I'm glad they wanted to run together for those with Autism. We decided to wear our AOK camp shirt to honour the occassion, and to my surprise, Danny showed up in his Vibrams! I've never run with someone in toe-shoes until that day we ran together! We even ran into a guy who Michael identified as working for GoogleMaps because he was carrying a large box on his back (which I thought was a boxed fridge) and walking around with a camera. I wonder if we got captured in the map. Our run together was relaxing and we added a sprint in the last 100 metres! It was really nice to catch up with these guys and I even got to ride in a pick up truck afterwards.

When we worked together as counsellors at AOK last summer, I learned a lot about kindness and patience from Michael and Danny. Danny was the one who inspired me to volunteer for a shift with Habitat for Humanity GTA last year and he's keeping me accountable in my goal of donating blood at least once this year. Michael is highly involved in Ryerson University's Social Work Students' Union and drummer in the band Six at Best (check out their music!). They're both stand up guys who are passionate about giving back to the community in their own way. During our run and chat together, I also learned a few new things from them. But what happens on the run, stays on the run. ;)

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I feel so lucky to have been able to run with 8 people in April! 8! I can't believe it! Special thanks to Jean-Paul Bedard for sharing about my goal on social media and connecting me with some friends of #JPsTeam. ^_^

Unfortunately I've been procrastinating writing about the runs because it's already May and I haven't written about all the runs from April yet! I'm sorry, but I will try my best to get those updates written out within the next few weeks. Definitely before May comes to an end.

Until next time, keep running!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

16 Runs with 16 Friends: March Update (Part 2 of 2)

This run took a month to plan, but we're so happy that it happened!

Run with Friend #7: Spadina / Casa Loma / Kensington Market
Date: March 26, my own "Fun Run with JP"
Temperature: -1C
Distance: 10K

As I waited inside the Tim Hortons at the Southwest corner of University Ave and Dundas St W., I saw the reflection of Jean-Paul (aka JP of #JPsTeam)'s neon vest in the bus shelter. I step out into the brisk Sunday morning feeling pumped! JP sees me and waves. When he reaches me, some of the first words out of JP's mouth were to ask if I was warm enough and I think that simply shows how JP is a very caring person. I stuttered something in response, but if he noticed my awkwardness, he certainly didn't show it.

Wait. Let's do a quick rewind. Last month, I wrote about how I met JP and why I've decided to be a part of #JPsTeam for my upcoming Ottawa Half Marathon in May. But how did I find myself running 10K with Jean-Paul Bedard on this fateful Saturday morning? Well that's simple. I asked him! And he said yes. His exact words were: "Wow! And Yes!!! Let's make this run happen. What a beautiful idea!" We started coordinating dates right away and that's how we found ourselves meeting up on a Saturday morning in downtown Toronto, outside a Tims.

I felt very comfortable running alongside JP for our 10K. There was no judgement about my slow pace or my inability to think of the "right" questions to ask. JP said that as long as we try our best to be authentic and present with others, the rest will come naturally. Funny thing is, I think that's exactly what happened during our run. I thought there would be more awkwardness from me because I still wasn't 100% sold on my own idea of asking strangers to run with me. There have definitely been moments prior to this run where I thought: "Come on Gillian! People are busy running with people they know. Why would they want to run with you?!" But JP's words eased my anxieties a bit and the pauses in our conversation were comfortable ones. I didn't force myself to ask questions, I listened to the flow of our conversation, remained present with JP and simply enjoyed the run.

JP told me about how he tries his hardest to ensure that his running and training needs don't conflict with those of his family. Running may have changed his life for the better, but he does not discount the people (especially his wife and family) who have given him unconditional support throughout his recovery. He touched on how people may regard him as being "brave" or "amazing" but he would not be able to live his lifestyle as an elite athlete and achieve his goals in running and other areas in life, without the support of his wife. Even though I haven't known JP long at all, I sincerely think he is one of the most humble people I've met.

During our run, I shared a bit about how my last year was tough for me because of a lot of self-imposed stress. Unknowingly, this stress impacted my running. Specifically, it twisted the purpose behind my running. What had started as something to help me de-stress had transformed into a stressor. JP recently wrote something for that perfectly describes how I feel about running and why I have different running goals this year:
"...running in its purest form is nothing more than putting one foot in front of the other, and more importantly, any time I attempt to complicate that in any way, I'm setting myself up for wave after wave of negative self-talk" --JP
I could not have said that better myself. Putting one foot in front of the other makes me happy and my journey through these 16 runs keeps reminding me of this.

Before we parted, I made a comment about how I'm glad we connected even though we couldn't be more different. JP shrugs this off by saying, you mean Barrie and Toronto? JP hadn't noticed any of our differences but an hour ago, the following facts seemed to stand out to me: Born and raised Torontonian vs. from the suburbs, ultramarathon veteran vs. newbie runner, elite athlete vs. girl who hated gym as a kid, a brave advocate vs. someone trying to be more brave/find out what it means to be brave this year.

An hour later, some new facts came to light and it seems like we've got more in common than I thought:
  • We are both learning to ask for what we want in life and being authentic about the possibilities that come from asking others for help/collaborate. People need people!
  • We love hills (?)! We tackled the Casa Loma steps enthusiastically that morning!
  • We like to dream big. My goal may be to have 16 runs with 16 friends this year, but I'm definitely aiming to run with more than 16 people. JP didn't know that starting JP's Team 2 months ago would snowball into the running community that it is turning out to be for some. And he's got big plans for the fall! 
  • We both don't understand runners who run with belts loaded up with water bottles. Isn't it uncomfortable? Isn't that what the water stations at race for?
  • We're both morning runners.
  • We both love hugs!
  • And obviously, we both Love to run. :)
I hope to raise $500 by May 29 2016 (date of Ottawa Half Marathon) for the Gatehouse, a registered non-profit in Toronto. Their mission is to provide support, resources and advocacy on behalf of those impacted by childhood sexual abuse. Please support me and JP's Team in changing the dialogue around childhood sexual abuse, while helping survivors both big and small, by donating HERE! Every little bit counts!

7 runs down and 9 more to go! Will I be able to run with more than 16 people? Stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

16 Runs with 16 Friends: March Update (Part 1 of 2)

I found myself meeting up with some familiar, fresh and even somewhat famous (?!) runners this month. I have a lot to say about these wonderful people, so I've split this month's update into 2 parts.

See the Spirit Catcher? We're in Barrie!
Run with Friend #5: Barrie Waterfront Trail
Date: March 7, my first time running with Peter in Barrie!
Temperature: 6-8C
Distance: 6.5K

It's a lazy Sunday afternoon (after running 8K on my own that morning), and I get a text from my friend Peter, asking if I was free to meet up tomorrow. Coincidentally, I was free to meet up on Monday! I immediately texted to ask if he wanted to run together. Since I've set this goal of running "16 runs with 16 friends", there's no doubt in my mind that when a running friend asks to meet up, a run should happen.

Peter and I crossed paths during post-secondary student lives, but we did not become formally introduced until I was recruiting people for the relay team for the Goodlife Toronto Marathon in early 2015. It was Stephie (aka Friend #1) who knew Peter and asked him if he wanted to join the team. I'm so glad that he said yes! Since our first encounter as strangers at a korean restaurant, we've shared quite a few nice runs alongside each other and many many laughs.

Since I started running with Peter, I've learned that we have much in common besides our love of running. Firstly, we're both not in a rush to become marathoners. Despite the "enthusiastic encouragement" from other running friends to train for a marathon, we both want to take our time with checking that off our bucket list. We both come from big families and have had some heart to heart conversations over tea, where I've really appreciated his calm presence and wise words. We're also the same age, and share similar feelings of caution, doubt and excitement while navigating the swampy waters of adulthood.

What's most awesome about Peter is that he's a big kid at heart, who gets excited about the idea of running and jumping around, just like me! During our run, we took a turn that led to us through some slush and icy areas. While my first thought was: Ugh. Now my shoes are wet. Maybe that wasn't a great idea. Peter yelled: YOLO! Hanging out with him reminds me to not only work hard but play hard. I look forward to future hangouts where we'll find ourselves yelling "Wooooooooooooooo!!" until we lose our voices. But whether we're vanilla or chocolate, I know it'll be a good time. ;)

Run with Friend #6: Queens Quay East / Sugar Beach area
Date: March 22, my friend's first time running with NRC!
Temperature: ~1C
Distance: ~4K

From left to right: NRC '"Sexy pace" pacer, me (seen as an excited heel striker),
and my friend Cynthia (loving every minute of this run!). Photo credit to NRC's photographer Tobias Wang.
Cynthia and I first met while we were both students at a summer research job. I was not yet "a runner" then, and for as long as I've known Cynthia (almost 4 years?), I didn't know whether or not she ran at all. In fact, she told me (right before this run started) she doesn't really run more than 30 minutes on the treadmill/elliptical. That is now proven false, because on the evening of Tuesday March 22, 2016, I witnessed Cynthia run an entire hour long speed workout of ~4K and even sprint way ahead of the pack on our last 400m interval. I thought: Where did all that energy and speed come from? Turns out, Cynthia is just full of pleasant surprises!

It was while catching up over tea and homemade frittatas last month that I asked Cynthia if she'd like to run together sometime as part of my goal of running 16 runs with 16 friends. To my pleasant surprise, she didn't hesitate and said sure! Now this didn't surprise me because I doubted her physical fitness, but because from my experience of asking friends of mine who didn't run regularly, their responses have not been as enthusiastic. Nevertheless, Cynthia was up for a short run around her neighbourhood and we immediately started talking dates. As fate would have it, when the weekend of our running date came around, she couldn't make it anymore and weekends dates weren't looking so good. I was afraid that our run would be postponed til next month and even risk the potential of becoming "that thing we said we'd do but never got around to", so I suggested that she come run with me during Nike Run Club (NRC)'s free speed runs on Tuesday evenings. Once again, Cynthia didn't let me down and agreed to come out to run with me! We decided to run the "sexy pace"(6:30min/km) together and see how far we go with the session.

Throughout the course of our speed run, I ran alongside Cynthia as she pushed the limits of her comfort zone. She found it hard to talk to us during the run. She repeated our workout's interval distances out loud in disbelief. She felt uncomfortable running in a cotton hoody that was wet with the evening's drizzle. She gasped in surprise when she heard our pacer countdown our remaining seconds of rest. At one point, in the last intervals, she even said her body couldn't feel anything anymore.

But not once did she stop. She did not tell me that she wanted to go back early ('cause I did say that I'd go back early with her if she wanted to). She didn't become discouraged by the spitting rain. She did not slow to a walk and wave us off. She ran every interval, giving it everything she's got. What's most admirable is that not only did she come out to do something she's never done before, she committed, and she finished strong! When I asked her where she got her the energy that turned her into a speeding bullet for our last 400m interval, she said that she wanted to finish the run sooner so she could rest for longer. Haha! And she did end up finishing the run way ahead of those in our sexy pace group! The force is strong with this one...

I'll always remember what Cynthia told me at the end of our speed run. She said she felt "the most accomplished she'd felt this year." Running made her feel accomplished! I feel so happy about our run together, not only because I got to hear her motivational words, but because I got to witness my friend being brave and trying something new! And even if running doesn't stick with her, I know she'll always be up for a casual run. In fact, she told me that she wanted to come out next week right after we finished! :D What did I tell you? This girl is full of surprises!

She really did come out the week after!
This is her "seeing the light" that running has shown her. ;) Haha!
Stay tuned for Part 2 of my March update! :)