Happy Anniversary To My Tribe

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My first run coming back from a shoulder injury and without a sling, happened to fall on the Tribe Fitness 1 year anniversary run. I plan to take the rest of the year off to recover and start running and training again in January but for my Tribe, I made an exception. 🙂

I’ve been running with Tribe for almost a year now. It is the first running group that I joined; other than the paid half marathon clinic program that I did with the Running Room. From my first run with Tribe to 1 year later; I have grown both as a runner and a person. I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to meet some amazing runners and athletes from beginners to elites and of all different backgrounds. I have formed close friendships with some of the Tribe and am grateful they are now my #TribeBrothers and #TribeSisters; my #TribeFamily. I’ve learned a lot from the Tribe members and continually do so. The biggest thing I learned was how to run in polar vortex conditions. This was my first year running throughout the winter and I enjoyed it. I hate to admit it, but I am kinda looking forward to running in the winter again.

I trained for my longest race to date: Around The Bay 30k this past March. I am thankful to have found a group of dedicated runners who were also training for ATB and thus helped pushed me to finish that race. It was hard getting up early on a Saturday in the winter when it was still dark out and taking the subway downtown to the Tribe meet up spot. Some days there were only a handful of us, or the weather would be brutally cold; but we showed up and knocked those kilometer’s out. Every Saturday, I knew there would be a group of runners waiting to do a long run, whether I showed up or not. But I knew that to be a better runner, you just have to run more. I am so thankful I did. To that group of runners that motivated me to get out of bed on Saturday mornings, I sincerely thank you!

Thanks to my Tribe, I have grown to become a better and more dedicated runner. I discovered that I’m a winter warrior and really enjoy winter running, I actually prefer it over humid summers any day. I’ve also grown as a person and discovered a new found passion, [although some of my friends might call it obsession 😉 ] with running. This year I also participated in the most road races ever. Good thing I had my Tribe along for all of those races, both running or cheering me on.

I am proud to be a member of Tribe Fitness, but I am more proud of the Tribe’s accomplishment. I’ve witnessed new runners completing their longest distance races ever to runners transitioning to and completing Triathlons and Ironmans. Not only am I proud of my Tribe’s accomplishments, but also motivated and inspired to grow and seek new challenges for myself. Who knows, maybe I will want to be an ultra runner or Traithlete as well. Over the year, I’ve learned that whatever goals or challenges I set for myself, I will always have a fabulous group of athletes there to support me, challenge me, motivate me and encourage me. To my Tribe and of course, our fearless leader Heather, I thank you! You will always have a special place in my heart. ❤

TribeClanPlenty of run memories were created this year! Let’s take a trip down memory lane with some of my favourite moments with the Tribe. It’s hard to believe it’s only been a year. There are so many photos, you can check out Tribe Fitness on Facebook for more.

My first run with Tribe

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What polar vortex..!? We even train hills in the winter and the last picture in this group is quite possibly the coldest day of the year in 2014!

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Tribe Ugly Sweater Run

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Around the Bay simulation run and shake out / race kit pick up run

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Jenna and I had a goal for 2014, but due to our injuries, is pushed to 2015. We will crush it!

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Spot the Olympian! 😉

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Warmer weather is among us

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The time we crashed Twitter with our famous ‘Ellen’ selfie

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My birthday run! ❤

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The time a running magazine featured our picture from the Mississauga Marathon

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The time we decided to wear our new compression socks during a Saturday long run

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The time we decided to dress all in white and get colour bombs thrown at us

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Tribe Does Trail

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Tribe Scavenger Run

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The time we volunteered as pace monsters for the Ivivva kids 3k Monster Mash Dash

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What better way to celebrate 1 year of sweating for social good, than to have a run party and run around downtown Toronto to various checkpoints answering Tribe related trivia

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Can you see our Tribe shirts?

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Thanks to Vega Toronto and Oakley Canada for supporting Tribe at the RUNiversary and year roundtribeanniversary

Last but not least, check out the amazing statistics Tribe racked up in just 1 year! Thank You Tribe Fitness! We love you and proud to watch you continuously grow.

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Setbacks Are An Opportunity For A Killer Comeback

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Two weeks ago, I ran my umpteenth obstacle course race this season. I’ve completed about 12 Spartan Races and a Tough Mudder this summer, and those were considered to be the ‘harder’ obstacle races.

It was raining the day of the Badassh Dash in Kitchener and I was running in the Elite heat. The Elite heat was a bit longer than the regular scheduled 7km course and had different options (which are harder) at the obstacles for the Elites. It was raining that morning so it made everything slippery and some obstacles harder than they actually were. As I was climbing up the slippery wall using the rope, I let go of my left hand to grab the top of the wall and then my right hand grabbed the top. As I tried to hoist myself up and over the wall, my foot slipped and I jerked back while still holding on the the top with both hands. At this point I heard a popping sound in my right and knew then and there, that my shoulder had popped. I’ve never dislocated a shoulder before but the popping sound and minor pain made me very aware that it was dislocated. I hung there for a bit not knowing if I should go back down or climb over the wall to the other side and use the rope to get down. I ended up pushing myself over the wall and once I grabbed the rope on the other side, I asked a Medic if he could help  me down because I popped my shoulder. As he put his hands on the base of my feet and lowered me down, I was still holding on to the rope. My arms were extended and I heard another popping sound. This time, it felt like my shoulder popped back in. As I stood on the ground, the Medic asked if my breathing and heart rate was okay. Then he made me raise my hands over my head and squeeze his hand to make sure I was fine. I felt fine and he said it was my decision if I wanted to continue or not. So of course, I decided to continue the race.

I was cautious and was running with my left hand holding onto my shoulder. About 20 minutes after, I got to another climbing obstacle and I  slowly started climbing over the wooden bars and heard another popping sound. I knew this time I had to stop. I tried to climb over the wall and the pain was getting stronger as I was making my way down. I was weak in my right hand and could barely grip the bars anymore that I had to jump down. The volunteer asked if I needed a Medic and I said yes. When the Medic got there, I was hoping they would be able to pop it back in and that I could finish the race. Not the case. 😦 He said he had to take me back down to the Medic tent and get it looked at there. I asked how far I was in the race and the volunteer said more than half way. I asked if I was able to run it and the Medic said no and that it may get worse. Being an athlete and having participated in numerous obstacle course races for the past two years, my pain threshold was pretty high. I’m used to pushing through the pain, the unpredictable weather, the difficulty of obstacles; but having an injury was too serious and as much as I wanted to finish the race and earn that medal, I knew I had to be smart and called it quits. It was my FIRST DNF ever.

As I was being taken down on the ATV, all I could think about was that I didn’t finish the race. I was sad and disappointed in myself. When I found out that I had to immobilize my right shoulder for four weeks, I was totally bummed. I was sad I would no longer be able to compete in the Spartan Race World Championships in Killington, Vermont the week after with athletes from all over the world. That was the race I had been training for. To compete in the hardest obstacle race terrain of all obstacle races. It was the ultimate challenge and I thought I was ready to tackle it. I had also been training for my first marathon and felt good that my training was on track. Now not being able to run for four weeks and my next check up at the hospital being four days before the marathon, I was at a loss of what to do.

Everything happens for a reason. At least I hope they do. Perhaps I was not ready for the World Championships and that I would have gotten injured in Vermont. It’s probably better to get injured on home soil with health care then in another country. At least that’s what I keep telling myself. There is a reason I needed this four week break. I am not able to drive, go to work (I’m right hand dominant), and can not run or even walk with some pain in my shoulder. There is a reason for all of this. I just don’t know what it is yet.

With 19 days left until the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, it’s panic mode. I have not been running or doing anything active in the last two weeks. Even if I was not able to run the marathon, I still wanted to be able to walk it. I decided I needed to start taking action and do what I can with what I have. I decided to make the best out of my situation. I did my first workout in two weeks!

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I have not decided if I will still run the full marathon or walk it. If I will downgrade to a half marathon instead of the full. So many decisions to make and so little time remaining. I know this race will no longer be a goal time race for me. It will just be a goal of completion.

I cannot wait until my sling comes off and I can get back to running and training again. Being off for two weeks now, I was able to set some new goals and plan some of my races for 2015. I know I will be back better, faster, and stronger than I was before my injury. There is always room for improvement and I have lots to improve on. I will turn my setback into a killer comeback! 🙂

Confessions Of A Soon-To-Be First Time Marathoner

DontQuit

So I am officially registered for my first full marathon this October! (See blog post here) 47 more days to go! I am feeling nervous, scared, anxious, and I just really want to get this first marathon jitters over with. 

As part of the Digital Champions duties for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, we are required to submit a blog post about our training or something that readers and fellow runners can relate to or feel inspired in preparation for the big day. There are a few inspiring pieces already submitted so I thought I would write about what my feelings and thoughts are about running my first full marathon. I know there are a bunch of first timers that will also be running at STWM so hopefully they can relate to my blog.

I’ve copied my blog post below and you can also find it here on the STWM Blog.

Confessions Of A Soon-To-Be First Time Marathoner. By Linda Nguyen

TORONTO August 31st 2014. Linda is an avid runner and obstacle course racer. After fracturing her right ankle pretty badly during an obstacle race in October 2012, and missing out on her first half-marathon opportunity at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, Linda started running again in February 2013. She crushed her 2013 fitness goals completing 12 road races and 5 obstacle races with some notable achievements including having completed her first half marathon, running 25k (her longest race), completing Tough Mudder in a snow and hail storm and becoming a member of the Spartan Race Trifecta Tribe. 2014 will be a big year for Linda as she will be running her first marathon at STWM on October 19th. Connect with Linda on Twitter @lindamnguyen and on her blog.

Confessions of a Soon-To-Be First Time Marathoner. By Linda Nguyen

Hi, my name is Linda and I am soon-to-be a Linda Warrior Dashfirst time marathoner. Is it too soon to call myself that? Maybe I am jinxing myself. What if all this training isn’t worth it and I don’t officially become a “first time marathoner”? What if I cramp up and have a repeat of my sad performance at last year’s STWM? Maybe I shouldn’t tell all my friends (and all of social media) that I am running the full marathon so that I don’t have to tell anyone how I did. All these thoughts are running through my head as I continue my training and quest for the title of “marathoner”.

There’s something about the word “marathoner” that makes you feel special and stand out from the crowd. It might not sound as elite as “Olympian” or “Professional Athlete” but I’m sure it does feel extraordinary nonetheless. Training to be a marathoner is not an easy task. It is a title that is earned and not given. Gone are those days of sleeping in and weekends of staying out late. I’ve had to decline invitations from friends if it conflicted with my training or race schedule. Yes, I know it sounds like an easy way out, but it’s true! I need to hold myself accountable and ensure I get my mileage in every week.

STWM is where I ran my first half marathon last year. So I am excited to return this year and try to complete the full marathon distance. That’s twice the distance and twice the training effort. I get nervous and nauseous just thinking about it. Now that we have approximately 8 weeks left before the big day, I find myself feeling panicking and pondering these important questions.

Pre-race panic:

What if I don’t get my mileage up enough?
What if I get injured?
How many days a week should I be training?
How much nutrition should I pack?
What will the weather be on race day?
What should I wear on race day?

During-race panic:

What if I get cramps?
Should I try to run it continuous or run 20 and 1’s?
Do I stop at all the water stations?
What if I don’t want to run the marathon anymore at the split mark?
What will happen if I just try to stick with the half marathoners at the split?

Post-race panic: 

Will my family and friends be there to watch me finish?
Where do I meet everyone?
What if I start bawling at the finish line?
How far is the medic area from the finish?
Should I get a massage?
WHERE DO I GO FOR BRUNCH?

So friends; if you are reading this, know that it’s not because I am avoiding you or that I don’t want to be with you, but because I am in training mode and I have a ton of questions I need answered on my path to STWM. Hopefully you won’t be upset, but will be able to support me as I cross that finish line and crush 42.2km on October 19th and can proudly change my title to MARATHONER!

Mississauga Half Marathon

AmbitiousGoals

I love challenging and continuously pushing myself. Before 2014 came around, I knew I already had quite ambitious goals to attain. My first fitness goal was to run two back to back half marathons. With only one half marathon under my belt, I knew this goal would not come easy.

I registered for the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in D.C. and the Mississauga Half Marathon. These two races were exactly seven days and two countries apart. A few people questioned what my strategy was and what race I was going to run faster in. My strategy was easy and simple. Enjoy the slow, scenic run in D.C. and a slow, steady run in Mississauga. I just wanted to be able to finish them both and not try to PR either.

Race Registration:

I registered for the Mississauga Half Marathon back in December and the cost was $80 CAD. I like to plan my full race calendar for the following year in December because not only are the prices significantly cheaper, but it holds me accountable and forces me to train for the races.

The same weekend as the Mississauga Marathon is the Toronto Marathon. Although I live in Toronto, I chose Mississauga because I have heard more positive feedback regarding the Mississauga race than the Toronto race. Most races tend to improve from the constructive criticism provided, but I did not want to take chances and decided to sign up for the Mississauga race.

Race Expo:

I did not attend the race expo, as my friend had picked up my kit for me. Our training group was originally scheduled to head to Mississauga to do a shake out run and then pick up our race kits. However, that did not happen as a friend told us that there was no point driving all the way there. The parking took forever and the expo was small with minimal vendors.

Race Kit:

The kit was a drawstring bag and included a chip timed race bib and a technical T-Shirt. It also came with other goodies including two race magazines, some race flyers, a bag of kettle chips, a small bottle of chocolate milk, a creme filled Easter egg, two packs of Starbucks coffee beans, some samples of Cetaphil face wash and hand cream, sample size bottle of Cold FX, and a few other random goodies. I failed to take a picture of the kit and only remembered after I had used/dispersed the contents. 😦

Parking:

Parking was free and located at a Community Centre. There were free shuttle buses that would take us to the starting line of the race and back to the Community Centre from the finish line.

Pre-Race:

It was actually quite cold on race day. Not expected for a race at the beginning of May. We waited inside the Community Centre for the shuttle buses and once the shuttle buses dropped us off, my friends and I headed to the nearby Running Room to stay warm. It was packed inside the store. There was hardly any room to move as everyone wanted to seek some warm shelter before the race.

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Race Course:

The course was nice and fairly flat with a few minor hills. We ran through the streets of Mississauga and along Mississauga Road to the Lakeshore. If you’ve ever heard of Mississauga Road, you would know that this is THE posh area of Mississauga. I enjoyed running through there and just admiring all the huge mansions along the way and hoping that one day I could live in a mansion of that capacity. We ran to the Lakeshore and through the waterfront and park. It got much colder as we got to the waterfront but it was still a nice breeze.

Water/Aid Stations:

What I really liked about this race was that there was a water station every 2 kms. It actually almost got overwhelming because there were so many of them. I skipped the first two and started to stop by every water station after that. I had learned my lesson from my first half marathon experience, and did not want to run out of my own fuel at the end. I also wanted to test if I could run a half marathon distance without a water belt and just using the water stations. I’ve seen lots of people without belts and always wondered how they were able to do so. I tend to sweat a lot and get thirsty so I like to keep hydrated to make sure I don’t cramp up too.

Volunteers:

There were a few volunteers throughout the course. Not an overwhelming abundance of them, but just enough at each water stations and at the finish line.

Spectators:

The only negative to this race was that there were hardly any spectators along the route. Other than the runners and the cars going by, the streets were pretty quiet. There were some along Mississauga Road; but for a residential area, the residents were nowhere to be seen. Perhaps they were still sleeping or it was too cold to stand outside and cheer on random strangers.

Post-Race:

The finish line was small but it was nice along the waterfront. It got so cold that they were giving out heated sheets to all the runners. There were some bananas and yummy bagels to choose from. There was a booth that you could win little prizes for answering some facts about chocolate milk. I chose a skipping rope. There were not many vendors there and because it was so cold and windy, most people left right after the race. I didn’t stay around for too long either. My friends and I headed back to the shuttle bus to get a ride back to our cars. What a different experience this race was compared to a week earlier when I was in Washington D.C. The weather, the people and the atmosphere was definitely more lively in D.C.

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Would I Run It Again:

If I had some friends interested in running this race, then I would run it again. I would not want to run it by myself as it got pretty boring along the route with hardly many spectators. If I run this again, it would be the half or even the full since the course was fairly flat. When comparing this race to the Toronto Marathon, which I had a few friends running in, this race was more organized overall. They didn’t get any heat sheets in Toronto! They didn’t get a packed race kit bag, had to find their own parking at the start or finish (no free shuttle), and it was overly crowded. I enjoyed my time at the Mississauga Half Marthon. Overall, it was a well executed event. Perhaps if the weather was warmer, the post race party site would have been great as well; but sometimes you have to expect the unexpected from Mother Nature.

So I completed two back to back half marathons!! Yay! 🙂 The feeling having crossed the finish line of my second half was indescribable. I felt proud of my achievements. The finshing times for both races were not a PB for me, but it didn’t matter. My only goal was to be able to finish both of them and that I did. I was hungry, tired, overwhelmed and proud. I went for a big brunch after the race and came home to nap. I ‘napped’  until dinner time. Lol. I deserved it. 🙂

One fitness goal checked off and many more to go. I may not know what they all are yet; but I know that I will continually set goals for myself. Each goal will be bigger than the previous, until I can become the best that I can be. ❤ Xo

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That’s me holding wearing and holding my Mississauga Half Marathon finisher’s medal in my right hand and my Nike Women’s Half Marathon Tiffany finisher’s necklace in my left hand.

Where has Linda been?


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Wow. I haven’t been updating my blog or my progress lately. Life has been so busy these past 2 months. Today was my ‘rest day’ after a fun and hectic Spartan Race weekend. I thought I would update my whereabouts on my blog and post my race recaps; and coincidentally, my friend J.C. also reminded me that I have not been blogging much as he has not seen any updates. [Yes, you got your shout out 😉 ]

April was the start of my 2014 race season and therefore there were many back to back races I was registered in. Aside from running, I was busy planning my BIG milestone birthday 🙂 and my RACEcation in Washington, D.C. for the Nike Women’s Half.

May consisted of another half marathon, more races and another RACEcation to start my obstacle race season. In addition to it all, I have a busy full time job and April 30 was our second quarter end – so there were several overtime hours in May. 😦

Now you can see, I’ve been a busy bee. 🙂

I don’t know how but I definitely give props to those frequent bloggers who blog every day and write their race reviews the day after. I applaud you! I will upload my pictures and write reviews of all the races I’ve done so far…slowly but surely. Better late than never right?

 

KeepBusy

 

 

You’re Tougher Than You Think

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This run was a tough run for me and it was the most challenging. I pushed myself but I also knew my body and when I’ve exerted my efforts. With every run or workout, I always push myself a little harder. Otherwise, you won’t get the results you want if you don’t consistently put in that extra effort every time.

It was a slow and steady 5k. I barely talked during the run, which for me is unusual especially if I’m running with someone. I wanted to concentrate on my breathing, on avoiding snowbanks and most importantly, on making sure I was able to finish the run standing upright and not feeling like I was going to pass out. During the run, I felt my breathing start to get heavy, my energy diminishing and I felt dehydrated. I barely even drink water for anything less than 10k. My calves were starting to hurt from running through all the unplowed snowed sidewalks. I ran at a slower than normal turtle pace and kept it consistent. I remember thinking and encouraging myself mid run “Finish strong”, “You’re tougher than you think”, “When did I become so tough?” By the end of the run, I felt so exhausted and dehydrated but super proud that I had finished my most challenging 5k run ever.

Some factors that could have contributed to my performance were:

TOWeather1. There was a snowstorm all day and the sidewalks were not shovelled, making it a difficult run in the snow.

2. Because of the snowstorm and wind chill warning, I was dressed the same as during my coldest run ever. I felt 10 lbs heavier during the run.

 

 

 

3. I was still sore from my intense bootcamp workout two days before

15secs pushup, 15secs shoulder press @ 16lbs x 10 reps.
15secs burpees, 400m run.
15secs boxjumps, 15secs squats @ 40lbs x 10 reps.
15secs jumping jacks, 400m run.
15secs wallballs @ 12lbs, 15secs bicep curls @ 16lbs x 10 reps.
15secs burpees, 400m run.
15secs tricep dips, 15 seconds tricep extensions @ 16lbs x 10 reps.
15secs jumping jacks, 400m run.

BloodDonation4. I donated blood in the morning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TribeRun

Running: The Passion That Unites Us All

Runners Understand

I am honoured to return as a 2014 #TYS10K Digital Champion for Canada Running Series. This inspiring and motivating group of runners is what pushes me every single day to become a better, stronger and faster runner, athlete and person. I have learned so much from all of them since the inauguration of the Digital Champion program in 2013 and am honoured and thankful to know them all. If you ever get the opportunity to meet any of the Digital Champions, consider yourself lucky. I always do. Thank you my Digital Champions family.

Check out my #TYS10K blog post on the CRS page as well as posts from other Digital Champtions.

I’ve also copied my blog post below.

Running: The Passion That Unites Us All

TORONTO. February 19th 2014. Digital Champion Linda Nguyen is an avid runner and obstacle course racer. Her 2013 fitness achievements include completing 12 road races and 5 obstacle races with some notable achievements including having completed her first half marathon, running 25k (her longest race), completing Tough Mudder in a snow and hail storm and becoming a member of the Spartan Race Trifecta Tribe. 2014 will be a big year for Linda. She hopes to PB the Toronto Yonge Street 10k race, achieve two Trifecta medals and run her first full marathon in October at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon! Connect with Linda on Twitter @lindamnguyen and on her blog.

Running: The Passion That Unites Us All. By Linda Nguyen.TYS10K Linda Blog

If you’re a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, which I’m assuming you are, you would have heard the tagline “The Passion That Unites Us All” many times before. I think it is a wonderful slogan and it can be applied to many areas of our life.

There are many things in life which I am passionate about, but running is at the top of the list. When we have a passion for something, it becomes our hobby, our past-time, and an escape from our everyday routine. It can be something we enjoy doing by ourselves, a time to reflect on personal growth; or it can be something we share with others who have the same passion as us. If I am not running a race on the weekends, then I am training for one. If I am not participating in a race as a runner or volunteer, than I am there supporting my friends.

An important part of growing up is finding out what your passions are. Completing a half-marathon and a full marathon have always been on my bucket list. When I signed up with the North York Running Room half-marathon clinic in 2012, I was not registered for any races yet. I wanted to see how my long distance training would go before I committed myself to 21.1K. I was a short distance track runner during school so I knew the conversion would require a lot of training. It was at the training clinic that I began to like long distance running. I was blessed with amazing and dedicated coaches who shared their passion of teaching and running with us. I met all different levels of runners from newbies like myself to veterans to runners who were getting back into running.

I learned a lot throughout the clinic. I learned that I was unprepared and the only thing I had right was my running shoes. I was able to try different fuels and gels during our Sunday long runs and even got to test run some new kicks. Needless to say, towards the end of the clinic, I had given in to the sport of running and all the cool (and at times pricey) accessories that went along with it to ‘enhance’ my experience. I had discovered a new passion and created new friendships while bonding over GPS watches, waterbelts the latest races we had registered for.

TYS10K Linda Blog 2

It wasn’t until one year later when I was asked to be a Digital Champion for the Toronto Yonge Street 10k that I united virtually with other runners that I had never met before. At first, I wasn’t sure what to expect or what I was getting myself into. I’m thankful to Canada Running Series for the opportunity and for my increased passion for running. By race day, I had gained new friends; some who I still see often, some who I only see at races and some whom I have never gotten the opportunity to meet in person but still consider my ‘online friends’. I have learned so much within the past year and am fortunate and thankful to be a part of a wonderful, motivating and inspiring community of runners.

The passion and unity doesn’t stop within’ our immediate community. Through the power of social media, I have connected with a global community of runners and athletes . It has allowed me to learn from other athletes about training and nutrition; to learn about new and inaugural races both locally and internationally; to create bonds and friendships with people in different time zones and various parts of the world; and most importantantly, it has provided me with the inspiration, dedication and determination to be a better,
faster and stronger runner, athlete and person.

Whether you’re a passionate runner or you’re a new runner looking for some training tips or inspiration to start running, join a run group and join the conversation online. There are lots of runners, including the rest of our #TYS10K Digital Champions team that are more than willing to share our experiences and training with you. Just have a look around and you’ll see that the passion and inspiration is everywhere.